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The Fire In Your Chest

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In Albion, where the moss grows thick and the rainy weather never seemed to let up, the Dragon King sat close to the fireplace, wings folding close to him in the cold as he listened to one of his trusted knights list out potential brides. The chill of the autumn air rolled in with mists finely shrouding the land around them, the fog feeling as dense as armor. He didn’t know why they went through all of the formalities. Arthur had already said instead of an heir, he was going to pick his successor out of the wise and witty, someone qualified to run his kingdom when he had passed. He needed no bride, but he did want companionship, and that was why he was humoring this list.

“If it’s not a wife you’re after…” Gawain said, steadily testing the waters. “Do you wish for a husband? A fellow king to rule with?”

Arthur lifted his gaze from the fire, interested but dismissive. “Surely no one has offered their sons to me. They would all be putting forth their princesses.”

“It just so happens that the third son of Uruk was offered in a footnote from King Lugalbanda. I think they meant it as a joke, but…”

A third son? Someone not destined to rule, then. “They’re lions, aren’t they?”

“They are.”

Golden-haired, red-eyed lions. Arthur had met them once in passing, but could not recall a third son in recent memory. Still, he did not want to put a princess through the labors of queenship, he resented the idea that women had only the place to rear sons. A king beside him might be interesting. Situated in a world above his knights, he bore no equals, and therefore, no friends. Arthur walked to the windowsill, his scaled tail swishing after him, pondering how long it would take to fly to Uruk and back. A third son would likely be power-hungry, but he had no idea what kind of person he was.

“Read the letter back to me,” Arthur’s clawed hands rested on the sill, watching the world move beneath him as commoners and merchants walked about their daily life in the Castletown. Albion was a place where people of all kinds could work in harmony, and he had made it that way specifically so that it was a refuge for people from warring kingdoms and people who wanted to be free from their roles in society. In Albion, so long as you obey the laws of the land, the land and its people would treat you kindly.

“My Sumerian is rubbish, but…” Gawain found the letter—or rather, the scroll that had been sent. “Greetings, King of Albion,” He began. “Blah, blah, we’ve been told you’ve been looking for a princess. I would offer you my oldest daughter if it pleases you to unite our kingdoms in a peace treaty. If she does not suit your tastes, my third son, unruly as he may be, is always looking for a way out of here…”

So he was joking. Little did he know, Arthur took everything quite seriously. A fellow king… he’d have to learn what kind of person this ‘third son’ was, and he could only do that by spreading his wings and flying to Uruk to see for himself. He wasn’t getting any younger, and he could use someone with liveliness around his castle. He just hoped they would humor him when he requested to see their son.

“Send a letter to the king, saying I’ll consider an alliance for their son’s hand, and I’ll be there in three week’s time.”

“Shall I send a knight?”

“No, a messenger bird will do.”

By that, he meant a courier with feathered wings, someone who could be trusted. As one of Arthur’s scribes in the room penned the letter, they passed it to him for him to sign. Taking the quill between his clawed hands, his sprawling signature and seal proved its authenticity.

As the courier took it and placed it in their pouch, Arthur walked with them to the parapets and watched as they spread their wings and headed east. He was trusting his intuition, something that rarely failed him. Something told him that pursuing the son instead of the daughter would prove more fruitful. After all, a man not in line for the throne, destined to be married off must have ambition. That was precisely what Arthur was looking for.

--

The first thing they did to Gilgamesh was cut his mane.

The moment the letter arrived, his father declared he was good for something, finally, and they were to prepare him for King Arthur in full decoration. The finest jewels, a winding red tattoo inked around his body, and of course, the mane that proudly made him a proper lion needed to be sheared off to make him look more submissive. Just as Arthur had guessed, Gilgamesh was ambitious, but the treatment they were giving him was nothing short of an embarrassment. Gilgamesh was constantly angling to be king of his own damn country, not to be married off into someone else’s.

As strong as he was, he held little power when his father ruled, so he just barely tolerated the decoration as they wound gold around his upper arms and pierced his ears with long, shimmering earrings. He’d take a chunk out of this King of Dragons, he would—nothing could steal his pride, not even being prepared as a bride. Tutors were suddenly swarming him to help him brush up on his English to try and make him more appealing. They didn’t really plan on this son ever going anywhere, considering his belligerent attitude, but to hear someone wanted to take him off their hands—with a prosperous kingdom, no less—it was tempting.

Weeks passed as Gilgamesh asked around about what Arthur was like. The Dragon King, who slew an innumerable number of foes, big and small, strong and powerful, who had led Albion to glory. He didn’t seem like the type to be dominated so easily, but Gil was an adept fighter, easily the strongest and most robust of his siblings. He wasn’t content with Arthur’s fairytales, no matter how impressive they were. He would have to meet the man for himself. Whatever made him take his father’s joke seriously, though… that was bizarre enough. Perhaps he just preferred a male counterpart, and that’s why he hadn’t taken up any princesses or queens that had thrown themselves at him. What an oddball.

Still, he would never be satisfied with just being passed along like a toy.

When the day came for King Arthur to arrive, he waited at his windowsill until he spotted something in the distance. He never imagined the Dragon King to arrive by sky. Still, he wouldn’t dignify him by going down to greet him with the rest of his family. They would have to drag him before the king before he ever stooped so low.

Soon enough, a couple of guards arrived to do just that.

--

Arthur was met with a crowd of cheers, his heavy plate armor trapping the humid air in Uruk’s weather. He definitely wanted to return home quickly if all of this paid off. When the kings met, they traded cordial greetings and Arthur almost instantly asked where his third son was.

They brought him before Arthur, two guards flanking either side of him. Rounded ears atop a crop of blonde hair that had clearly been cut in comparison to the men around them who bore striking manes, a swishing, agitated lion’s tail, and beautiful, colorful red fabrics wrapping around his body as his chest was left bare. They had draped a flowered veil over his head, but Arthur could still clearly see his face and all of the anger written all over it. Doing the noble thing, Arthur took his hand and kissed it.

Gilgamesh retracted his hand almost instantly, earning the ire of nearly everyone around him. Arthur didn’t seem perturbed in the slightest. In Uruk’s traditions, a bride was traded almost like goods and it wasn’t an enviable position to be in. He couldn’t imagine the shame born from being traded off from your family, it was a position Arthur never had to be in.

“It’s an honor to make your acquaintance,” Arthur spoke, looking over Gilgamesh admiringly. He was truly beautiful— pure red eyes that were trying to pierce him, a lithe frame that was shown off in the outfit they presented him in. He could tell he was powerful despite his position, and every bit as beautiful as any other bride presented before him, perhaps more. He couldn’t help but behold him, even as Gil wondered what the hell his deal was.

“I’m sure it is.”

“Shall we talk inside?”

“I’m sure you’d rather speak to my father.”

“On the contrary,” Arthur gave only the slightest smile. “The person I’m most interested in is you.”

Gilgamesh wasn’t impressed by Arthur’s charming words, either. As they were given permission to walk the gardens, the very moment Gil was out of sight, he tore the veil off and threw it to the ground.

“I don’t know what you’re doing here, but clearly , you’re out of your mind.”

“For seeking a bride?”

“For choosing me over my sister! Are you insane? I’m comfortable here, this is my territory, and one day I will be king . I can’t afford to get wrapped up in foreign affairs when I have so much climbing to do.”

“Do you intend to kill your brothers?”

“Wh—”

“I’m just saying, the only way up is by clearing the path ahead of you, and that’s quite treasonous.” Arthur’s voice was even, carrying no judgment but no approval, either. “I intend to marry someone to have as an equal. If you cannot rule here, why not in Albion?”

“You don’t even know me.”

“Such is my intention to get to do so now.”

Arthur was stunningly handsome. Gilgamesh had never seen a dragon in person before, the elegant crown circling his horns that curved up and off of his head, the slight shimmer to his wings. Most people would be thrilled a prospective husband was checking them out, but most people weren’t Gilgamesh. Just as easily as he noticed his handsome face did he notice the talons on his fingers. Gilgamesh had claws, too, but they could retract into his hands (and had since been filed down by those wishing to make him look more demure). He was aching to use them, too.

“Ask what you want. It won’t change my mind.”

Arthur would press him on politics, ask him about what a king was meant to do and how they were meant to lead, how he felt about civilians and how he felt about leadership. Things a real king would want to know from a prospective one. Gilgamesh’s answers impressed him, even if they were selfish ones—he clearly had spent a lot of time thinking about what it was like to rule. He lacked polish, as if he were raw gold, yet to be formed into its true shape. He was young, spiteful, and ambitious. He was everything Arthur had hoped he’d be. A challenge, something to liven up his life.

“I think I will accept your father’s offer.” He said, once their conversation had wound to a close. “You will have more opportunities where I live to grow than you do here.”

Gilgamesh balked at him, before he scowled. “Suddenly, you know what’s best for me?”

“I will not take you without your consent. I know it is tradition here to trade for a bride, but we do not do things that way in Albion.”

Gilgamesh saw it for what it was—an opportunity. He was destined to rule, and he’d always known as much. So what if it was somewhere else? Still, his pride demanded satisfaction, and he wouldn’t go without a fight.

“I’ll crush the hopes of my family if I refuse you, so who am I to say no?”

Arthur sensed that wasn’t the end of it, but he nodded and accepted it anyway.

--

They really, really wanted Arthur to take Gil.

Showering him with an impressive dowry of jewels and gold, they also threw the notion of having territory near Uruk at him. Arthur didn’t seek to expand his borders any, but the offer was still something. Still, he was sticking to his guns. Gilgamesh would only accompany him out of the country if he wanted to go. The pressure was on Gilgamesh to take up the offer, his father even threatening punishment if not. He resisted until it was clear his neck was upon the line if he didn’t.

But what was going to happen when he did? Arthur stood tall at seven feet, he didn’t want to imagine bedding this man. Surely, if he professed this much interest in him, that was his intention. Gilgamesh knew he was attractive, and hazarded a guess that Arthur thought the same. He found himself sauntering into Arthur’s guest room as he was disrobing for bed, unlatching the fabric around his wings and letting them spread properly. His form beneath his clothes was everything Gilgamesh had come to expect from the Dragon King.

“So all of this is mine if I marry you?”

Arthur looked back at him in slight surprise, undoing the rest of his armor. “All of this…?”

“This body of yours. Surely you are not thinking of a chaste relationship.”

“No,” He said finally, stripped down to his pants and boots. “I’m not.”

Gilgamesh smirked at him, crossing his arms over his bare chest. “So you’re seeking a partner to bed? You could have anyone back in your kingdom for that.”

“I’m not seeking just that, though you are pleasing to the eye.”

“You have my family to thank for decorating me for you. Please, look all you like,” He bit back sarcastically.

“Hmm… I like you a bit more because you’re unafraid to challenge me. Back home, my knights respect me and the common folk revere and somewhat fear me. I want someone who can challenge my opinion freely, to help me to think from a new perspective. You seem like a perfect candidate.”

“Interesting way for a king to think. I would like my rule to be absolute in every way.”

“It gets boring at the top,” Arthur said quietly, sitting on the bed, looking over Gilgamesh somewhat hungrily, who noted it.

“Do I please you?”

“Very much,” Arthur opted to answer honestly.

It was a weird feeling, being the third son and somewhat openly ignored his entire life, to finally have someone drop into your lap who saw your value, but Gilgamesh would neither be so easily swayed or bend to his will. Arthur’s deal wasn’t exactly a bad one. Rule in another kingdom by another king’s side, have a position of power and influence over the world. He still wanted his own damn kingdom and badly, and knew that he could easily throw a coup with the power that flowed through his veins. Still… this might be easier, or he could manipulate it to his advantage.

“I will tell you tomorrow whether I accept or not.” Gilgamesh said finally, though he was fairly sure he knew his answer by now.

“Please do. There’s no rush,” Though Arthur would like him to hurry, as the heat really was dizzying.

--

Gilgamesh waited for Arthur to come before the royal throne room the next morning, dressed again in new luxurious clothes and jewelry.

“Arthur Pendragon, I accept your proposal.”

He was between a rock and a hard place anyway, with punishment threatening to rain down on him should he refuse or turn Arthur away in any meaningful way. Arthur gave him the slightest of smiles, getting down on one knee before him and taking his hand. He procured a silver ring from his satchel, one he had brought from Camelot’s treasury just in case. As he slid it onto his finger, Gil got the sense that it wouldn’t be coming off any time soon. Arthur pledged his loyalty to him in front of his family.

 “So long as you will have me, I will have you,” These words coming from Arthur’s mouth, even if Gilgamesh was totally opposed to this, he had to admit were enticing. “and so long as we’re together, I will make sure you live happily.”

With the thunderous applause following, Gilgamesh felt his life lock and the key thrown away. Still, he hadn’t given up just yet. He gave Arthur a thin smile as he retracted his hand, wisely saying nothing in response to his proclamation. There was to be a feast in celebration of the third son finally moving away from the nation and solidifying the bond between their kings.

Arthur sat across from Gil as presents were given left and right, treasures from the vaults of Uruk being offered as dowry. Arthur was surprised to see so much—they must really want Gilgamesh gone. It didn’t matter. He’d make sure he had a better life back in Albion, one where he could shed that angry demeanor as he became appreciated for who he was. Even so, Arthur sensed this wasn’t the end of Gilgamesh’s anger towards him for even presuming to take him away from Uruk, and his suspicions were confirmed when Gilgamesh lifted a sword as if to gift it to Arthur in both hands.

“I have a gift for my intended, as well,” Then, triumphantly, he turned the sword deftly in his hand to point at Arthur’s neck. “The right to duel me for my hand.”

Arthur didn’t even flinch, as if he knew he was in no real danger, and that just pissed off Gilgamesh further. Gilgamesh’s father went red in the face, about to shout him down for saying so, but Arthur lifted a hand.

“Are you sure you wish to do this?”

“How could I marry a man weaker than me? Fear not, family. I intend to honor my promise to Arthur, but the stakes are changing. Win, Arthur, and I’ll go quietly. Lose… and cede your power to me as rightful ruler.”

Arthur sighed, the edge of the sword still pointing at his neck. “I accept.”

Gilgamesh was surprised he’d wager so much when he could brute force Gilgamesh into obeying. “We’ll duel in the courtyard. Now. I can’t wait another minute.”

--

Gilgamesh proudly boasted the same sword he’d offered Arthur as the king stood opposing him, withdrawing the holy blade Excalibur against him. A tense moment passed between them before Gilgamesh charged, slicing through the air with intent to kill, knowing that he could pull no punches before the holy swordsman. Arthur casually dodged each blow with a deflection from his blade, sidestepping Gilgamesh as he advanced. For a moment, it seemed one-sided, with Arthur carelessly avoiding each blow, before Gilgamesh got serious and upped his game.

Each clash of the sword became more threatening, aimed for more vital places, and Arthur suddenly gasped for breath. Sensing weakness, Gilgamesh advanced, aiming for his side, steel clashing against steel as their armor blocked blows. He could outlast him, he could—eventually he’d tire and relent. His sword ghosted Arthur’s cheek, leaving behind a scratch. Proof he was slipping up, proof he was underestimating him! Arthur winced slightly, Gilgamesh priding himself on his skill, knowing that the kill strike was coming soon—

Suddenly, Excalibur struck back.

The flurry of blows that came back from Arthur, charging forward as his blade cleaved straight through Gilgamesh’s, breaking steel as it fell to the ground. Gilgamesh at first stood dumbfounded before he called upon his gods-given power of the Gates of Babylon, drawing out another sword as he stood his ground. That, too, was broken through. It was a flurry of blades as Arthur broke treasured weapon after treasured weapon before he planted his boot on Gilgamesh’s torso and kicked him down, planting Excalibur in the ground right beside his head and pinning him in place.

“Enough,” Flames were flickering in Arthur’s breath as he leaned over his bride, Gilgamesh staring up at him with disgraced, furious eyes. “This farce has gone on long enough.”

“Farce…?!” Gilgamesh sputtered.

“If you want to learn how to fight in a way that isn’t baseless scrapping, I’ll teach you. Back home.”

He stood up and withdrew his sword, sheathing it by his side as Gilgamesh sat up. He looked at the ring on his finger with scorn. He really just promised himself to someone and lost the wager that would seal the deal! His father was watching from the hall, clapping slowly, looking at him with disappointment. Gilgamesh simply glowered in his direction.

He’d be married in Albion, but for now, the party to send him off would continue.

--

Arthur had instructed him to dress in furs for the trip home. As all of his things were packed (more like tossed in his treasury because convenience won over everything else), Gilgamesh crossed his arms as they were lead out of town. As Uruk vanished on the horizon behind them, Gilgamesh wondered where Arthur’s men were, to take them out of town and head back.

“So where is your entourage? Your carriages? Surely we’re not going to walk.”

“Oh, we’re not walking.”

Without another word, Arthur picked up Gilgamesh in a princess carry and spread his wings.

“Oh, you cannot be SERIOUS—”

“Do you want this to take weeks or days?”

Gilgamesh crossed his arms, refusing to hold him or anything like it. Arthur held him in one arm for a moment, passed him a potion from his satchel in a small vial, and Gil looked at it with scrutiny.

“Drink this, or you’ll freeze at high altitudes.”

Down the hatch it went. Taking it as approval, Arthur’s wings flourished as he took to the sky, and Gilgamesh quickly realized why Arthur had told him to bundle in furs and had him take that potion. The higher they rose, the more frigid the air grew. They would make the whole trip like this? Being… carried like this?

“For gods’ sake, you better land somewhere secret so no one sees me like this--! I’ll kill you!”

“You’ve already proven that you’re not capable.”

“Khh… bastard.”

“Loving language for a bride.”

Gilgamesh wished he’d drop him then and there, but the cold was engulfing him and he realized, Arthur was warm . He was a fire-breather after all, which meant his torso must have been full of flame or the ability to create them, heated like an old furnace. Unintentionally, he leaned into him to cozy up to this natural heater because the furs weren’t nearly enough for flight above the clouds. It was a beautiful sight, and Gilgamesh didn’t fear it. He knew Arthur wouldn’t drop him or tease him by dropping him and catching him, he was so…

“You’ve barely expressed anything while you were back there. Even when I accepted your proposal, you barely smiled.”

“…”

“… Don’t ignore me!”

“I’m not. Flying takes focus.”

“I think you’re using it as an excuse not to answer me.”

Arthur smiled mysteriously, and Gilgamesh frowned. “We could at least use this time to talk.”

“Ask me anything, then.”

“How on earth are you able to fly carrying another person?”

“Magic. These wings aren’t even enough to carry me on their own, but I’ve been enchanted. Now, let me ask you something.”

“Go ahead.”

“How do you plan to use your newfound power?”

“I can’t rule a kingdom without seeing it first, mongrel. Obviously, I will observe before I make any moves.”

Arthur laughed at ‘mongrel’, and if Gilgamesh were in any position to move his body at all, he’d smack his chest. “Does this amuse you?”

“Oh, very much.”

“I didn’t know you were taking back a court jester.”

“No, I am certainly carrying home my bride.”

“Stop—stop with the ‘bride’. I’m the one who should be getting brides! Plural!”

Arthur fell silent again, and as the air grew colder, Gilgamesh realized it was growing intolerable as the sun set. At this rate, he’d freeze solid. He demanded Arthur stop at an inn and give him time to warm up and rest, which Arthur agreed. Paying in a handsome amount of gold, they took the best room as Gilgamesh warmed himself by the fire and Arthur stripped off his armor.

“Are you all right?”

“Perfect,” Gilgamesh snapped back. His kingdom having abandoned him to whatever life awaited him in Albion, he didn’t want to appear weak and admit homesickness. Arthur took a blanket off the bed and draped it around his shoulders.

“I can sleep without one. You stay by the fire for as long as you need.”

Arthur carefully navigated his wings over the side of the bed facing the wall and laid down to rest. It would be a cold day in hell (which, he realized bitterly, it was) when he willingly curled up beside Arthur any time before their wedding night. Oh gods, he had to think about a wedding night. He fell asleep sitting upright in the chair as the fire before him turned to embers and the room fell into a soft chill again. Tomorrow would bring about a second flight, bringing him farther away from home and closer to the kingdom he was now committed to preside over.

He’d never felt anything like anxiety before and he wasn’t about to start, but a simple unease filled him as he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Gilgamesh spent the rest of the flight in stubborn silence, although that was tearfully boring. He had to keep his eyes closed for the majority of the trip or the wind rushing by would sting them, preventing him from watching Arthur’s expression change. It was truly uncomfortable to be above the clouds with the only thing keeping you secure being someone’s arms, but Gilgamesh betrayed no fear, at least none that Arthur himself noticed. He had held him close to his chest so that the warmth from it would spread from his body to his bride’s, and although Gilgamesh clearly didn’t enjoy it, he didn’t try to wriggle out of his grasp, either.

During the nights they spent in inns, Arthur didn’t hesitate giving up their bed to Gilgamesh, who wanted space and time to warm himself after a long day of being held close. Arthur watched as Gil bundled himself in furs and blankets and still shivered beneath the entirety of them. Suddenly, he felt bad, knowing he’d subjected him to something he not only wasn’t used to, but he subjected it to him for an entire day.

Gil’s ears flattened against his head in displeasure as Arthur climbed onto the bed and took the blanket-lump of his body into his arms, laying by his side. The warm furnace of his chest was a welcome addition and helped him defrost, but to have this man so close to him…!

“Unhand me.” He said, despite not moving away.

“You’re freezing,” Arthur stated, matter-of-fact-ly. “This way, I can keep you warm.”

“It’s unwarranted!”

“You’re going to have to get used to being in my bed anyway.” Arthur was ever reasonable, though not too pushy. “I just want to help you heat up. We’re flying across the channel tomorrow, and it’s going to be cold.”

Great, it was going to be even colder. Never before had he yearned for the sweltering heat of his homeland. No doubt, he was going to have to start dressing like Arthur in those confining clothes. He may be resistant to this whole idea, the indignity and shame of being called a bride, but Arthur was a good heat source. When you were as chilled to the bone as he was, rejecting heat felt like a death sentence. Reluctantly, he scooted closer to Arthur, so that his face was mere inches from his chest, as warm as a crackling fire. Hesitantly, he withdrew his hand from the blanket to flittingly tap his skin, surprised to find it hot to the touch. Immediately, he glanced up at Arthur to see him smiling down at him, finding this curiosity and hesitation all very cute.

“Are you doing this on purpose?”

Quickly dying embers floated out of Arthur’s lips as he spoke. “I’m stoking the flames inside of me a little bit for you.”

Gil didn’t thank him, he just let his head hit the pillow as he greedily accepted his warmth. Arthur wasn’t exactly a terrible person to be stuck with, but the situation surrounding him—how much better would their meeting have been if they were both kings? Gilgamesh was only the son of one, though now he was destined to be more. He didn’t like the idea that Arthur wanted him for his own amusement—like a pet. Like a cat that hissed and clawed someone whenever they picked it up.

He knew Arthur wouldn’t say that, but he still suspected it, regardless of whether he was right or wrong.

His family didn’t care if Arthur wanted him for entertainment or not. His status as a prince didn’t matter. He was traded for goods and land, and that was exactly the cost on his head. To be so powerful and yet so powerless—it was an indignity he especially couldn’t suffer through, and he couldn’t even fight this man properly! ‘Baseless scrapping’… what an insult.

Still, Arthur was treating him better in this situation than other kings would. He’d seen the treatment some of his sisters got when they were married off, and it was not to handsome kings like Arthur. They’d easily kill for his position, but he wasn’t counting his blessings.

Arthur’s form was massive. At least 7 feet in height compared to his 5’11”. Laying against him for warmth, he never felt short compared to anyone before, but this dragon was managing. A big body meant everything was bigger. Not wanting to ponder the implications of that, Gilgamesh quickly settled in for sleep.

--

It would be just one short flight to Albion now. This, by far, was the coldest stretch of land they’d crossed, and Gil was only barely tolerating it. True to his word, when they arrived, Arthur landed in the back of his castle, where no one would see him carrying his would-be bride.

Immediately, they were greeted by servants who had been signaled about his arrival. Gently letting Gilgamesh step onto the stone floor, wearing only sandals, the people around him were surprised he made the trip in his minimal clothing with only a few pelts of furs. He was absolutely shivering, and one servant with a kindly face and red-feathered wings lead him to the fireplace. Each one of them beheld him in reverence. The future bride of the King himself. He was to be treated with absolute care and dignity.

It didn’t feel like dignity to Gilgamesh, though. As he sat in front of the fire and as they brought him proper English clothing, he refused them, wanting to wear what he had from home for as long as he could. Gilgamesh’s clothing left little to the imagination, with an open shirt designed to show off his chest and markings, and a sheer fabric worn beneath layers of wraps and cloaks that was practically see-through. The gold metal hanging from his ears and neck felt particularly cold, but he refused to remove anything that displayed him as a prince in his own right, rather than a bride of a King.

“Go,” He said, his English not yet perfect. “I don’t need your help.”

Arthur approached him from behind, watching as he sat in front of the fireplace to warm himself. “I should report to my knights that you’ve arrived safely and soundly. Will you stay here? I can have them bring you to our chambers if you like.”

“Are you suggesting I sleep with you before the wedding? Feh. Give me my privacy and my own room.”

“As you wish. In the meantime, this room is filled with books on the local culture of Albion. Perhaps you’d like to read--?”

“I’d like to thaw, thank you.”

Gilgamesh was so stubborn, and yet, Arthur wasn’t annoyed with it in the slightest. He really did deserve privacy after spending days at a time with his husband-to-be, flying across several countries to make it back home. With a simple ‘ask a servant for me if you need me’, Arthur left the room in a flourish, tucking his wings back behind him as he stepped through a door that was just barely tall enough to accommodate him without ducking.

As soon as Arthur had left, Gilgamesh ordered one of the servants to bring a book before him so he had something to focus on other than freezing and his current predicament. The large tome was fairly new and was a detailed account of Albion and its people, monsters, and legends. Skipping over the boring parts like how Albion was founded and the royal lineage, he found himself reading about the monsters that inhabited the land, more specifically, a sea monster that roamed the Irish Sea.

According to the book, legend had it that a fae queen named Medb had cursed the ‘child of light’ into becoming a corrupted monster that now capsized boats going to and from Ireland in its territory. It was a massive beast according to the drawing that accompanied it, one that the text detailed ‘could come to land if he wished, thank God that he does not,’. Gilgamesh found himself flipping back a few pages to read the legend of the child of light, his life before he was corrupted. Did such monsters really exist in Albion? Should he even be surprised?

He flipped to Arthur’s entry in the book, the one detailing the exploits of the Round Table. Arthur was forever young thanks to Excalibur, and thus, was quite a bit older than he looked. He’d have to ask him exactly how old he was… according to this, Arthur answered to them as his most trusted group of people, those who helped him make decisions to rule fairly and justly over Albion. Gilgamesh made a note to meet them personally, as the details about them in the tome were quite fascinating, if true. He knew kings embellished their achievements from personal experience.

As he poured over the tome, he could feel his body warm and feel ready to begin exploring his new domain. He snapped at one of the servants brought in to watch over him and demanded a tour as he tucked the book underneath his arm to continue reading later. They politely asked if he’d like to get dressed in something else, and he repeated himself, saying he wouldn’t let go of his culture until he married into this one.

He quickly learned why they suggested it, though.

Walking into the open halls of the castle, people were staring at him left and right. For once, Gilgamesh thought he might want the veil back if it prevented people from looking at his face. In truth, it wasn’t just his face but all of him. The open shirt, the earrings, the foreign tattoos. He walked proudly as if to say ‘yes, I’m sticking out like a sore thumb and I like it that way.’ People who looked directly at him got the fiercest, angriest stares and were told to lower their gazes, mongrels. This was the king’s bride? King Arthur, who was as kind as he was loyal and brave. He chose this… brat of a cat?

People of all kinds were walking the halls. While lions and only lions were a part of the Uruk royal family and servants, there were different animal traits for each person. As he walked the spiral staircase downward, he could see a stag with antlers both high and ornate. He saw beautiful birds of paradise who’d come to roost in this cold, clammy kingdom. He saw bears, lots of them, and foxes.

“This place is a paradise for mutts,” He muttered to the servant next to him, who only lowered their head.

Camelot did indeed pride itself on its diversity, having people from all over take refuge in its hallowed walls. Merchants from ports all over sold their goods in stalls and shops, sailors would bring back fresh fish, particularly those with the gills to dive and arrange the nets just right. Several swore they saw the corrupted child of light themselves, and how he was a sea monster at least twelve feet tall (the height always varied between sailors.) The Knights of Fianna, a wolf pack from Ireland, were currently in town to speak with the king. It seemed Arthur was a busy man, always attending to the needs of the people himself rather than sending someone in his stead.

“Maybe he’ll be too busy for me,” He mused to himself hopefully. Having power here was going to be like having power over the rest of the world, with how fruitful their bounty was and how merchants seemed to thrive. Being a second king was going to have more prospects than ruling in Uruk ever would. Perhaps Arthur hadn’t lied about that. So what? He’d still rather be the only king on the throne rather than be the toy of another. He wasn’t going to forget he had duties to the king in marrying him. He was curious about it, that much he could admit. Who wouldn’t brag about bedding a dragon? Of course, he had no clue what it’d be like, which could be his downfall.

Gilgamesh asked to be brought before the fabled Round Table and found himself only somewhat impressed by it. A few of the knights were there, talking when Gilgamesh let himself in. A red-haired bird and an obvious bear greeted him.

“You must be the bride of the king,” Tristan said somewhat melancholily. “It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”

“And mine, as well,” Gawain bowed his head and offered to take Gilgamesh’s hand, who reluctantly offered it. “How are you finding Camelot?”

“Interesting, if cold and bleak,” Gilgamesh was nothing but honest. “You’re the king’s trusted knights?”

“We are. If there is anything we can do for you--”

“Tell me about your king. More specifically, why he would choose someone like me? I was quite content back home to rise the ranks.”

The two looked at each other. Frankly, they weren’t sure what possessed Arthur to take someone who was so… rude, for lack of a better word when there had been so many offers, dozens upon dozens of them. Everyone wanted a piece of Albion and were offering people who had practically been raised for the task of marrying Arthur or some other high-ranking noble.

“Our king's whims may seem hard to understand at first, but he always has a reason,” Gawain bowed his head slightly. “I believe he wanted someone who would challenge him and make his life more interesting. At least, that is what he said to me.”

“To be surrounded by such livelihood and still feel like life is uninteresting… what a difficult man to understand,” Gilgamesh said, unamused.

“Surely, it is your task to understand him now,” said Tristan. “A fellow king might be able to give him the freedom to talk about his concerns and help relieve the stress of managing a kingdom by oneself.”

“An opportunity I don’t intend to squander,” He responded, crossing his arms because he noted Gawain had stared at his outfit unknowingly.

“Then we will leave him in your capable hands, Lord Gilgamesh.”

Finally, some respect in using a title. Gilgamesh decided that these two, at least, were fine with him so long as they continued to respect him. Not like the servants who had carelessly called him a bride.

A servant came up to Gilgamesh to tell him rooms had been prepared for him in the wing of the castle that Arthur resided in. Thank goodness, a place of his own until the wedding itself. Knowing that it was all being planned around him, he didn’t even know the date of the ceremony or what he’d be expected to say. He simply followed them out, carefully watching the flicker of their ears and the meek swish of their tail. A common housecat. Only good for catching mice, he thought to himself. Nothing like a lion.

It seemed they heeded the change in climates for him because this room had two stone fireplaces and a bed that had been almost humorously layered in furs and blankets. Stepping into the room, it was immediately quite warmer than the rest of the castle, with high windows trapping in the heat and rugs on the floor making each footstep less cold. He dismissed the servant, telling them he only wished for food to be brought here, and the only person he expected to see enter this room would be none other than the king himself. His orders now finished, he sat beside the fire and pried open the book again.

He’d ignored studies about Albion before because he didn’t think he’d ever go there, given the distance, and thought that when he was king (rightfully so), he’d learn on the fly. Life never worked out the way he wanted it to, though. Reading its stories now, he could see they were just as vivid as the tales of the gods back home—with monsters and creatures of all kinds roaming its land, despite claiming only one god ruled it, but even further back, it seemed that the people used to believe in more than one. It depended on the region and the people who worshipped in secret.

Reading about all of these unique things made him want to go out and fight them, to build a legend as reputable as King Arthur’s so that when history looked back on them, Gilgamesh wouldn’t simply be a footnote in Arthur’s story. Always coming back to the entry on the sea monster, the once-Child of Light, he decided he had his first target. Conquer that, and he’d certainly make a name for himself just as big as his knights’. That was just getting started!

He heard a knock at the door. He didn’t dignify it with an answer until someone opened it.

It certainly wasn’t the king. It was a white-haired man dressed in equally shimmering white robes, carrying an odd staff and a little satchel.

“Good evening, Gilgamesh.” He seemed to know nothing of manners, as he looked directly at Gilgamesh without lowering his eyes out of humility. “My name is Merlin, and I serve the king.”

“State your business.”

“Nothing much. I created the potion that made you able to tolerate the cold in the sky as you flew this way. I’ve made another if you would kindly take it.”

“It barely worked. I felt as though I were frozen solid.”

“Yes, but if you hadn’t taken it, you actually would have. I consider that a win in my book!”

“What’s this you’re bringing me?”

Merlin took a bottle out of the bag and set it on a nearby table. “It’s just a healthy suggestion. I would take it on the night of your wedding, so as to not…”

The night of his wedding? “What nonsense are you speaking—”

“Perhaps it is best left a surprise! Hahaha!”

“I’m not taking anything I don’t know the contents of!”

“It’s not lethal, no worries. It’ll simply help. With that, I must be off.” Merlin gave a small wave and closed the door after him, leaving Gilgamesh to think ‘what an idiot if he thinks I’ll take some random potion’ and went back to his book.

He wouldn’t be interrupted again until someone opened the door without knocking, this time the king himself.

“What do you want?” Gilgamesh hardly lifted his eyes from the pages, now thoroughly engrossed.

“I was wondering if you’re still cold.”

“I doubt I’ll ever get used to this climate, but I’m fine for now.”

“Surely you wish to dress in something warmer.”

Gilgamesh stood up.

“You listen to me. I am not giving up where I came from for as long as I can hold onto it. These clothes stay on.”

Arthur lifted his hands. “Alright, alright. No one is forcing you.”

Gilgamesh noticed that Arthur’s eyes were wandering boldly and he turned back to face the fireplace, tail swishing angrily. “If that was all that you’re wondering, you may dismiss yourself.”

“I was hoping we could talk for a while, too.”

Gilgamesh rolled his eyes. What did Arthur take him for? An excited, nervous bride? He was neither. As a servant came in with a strange device Gilgamesh had never seen, Arthur explained it was a bed warmer—a closed pan filled with hot stones that would heat the bed between the blankets before someone got in. A courtesy he asked for Gilgamesh’s sake. All of it annoyed him. He could survive just as well on his own, thanks!

“About what?”

“What kind of ceremony would you prefer?”

“Small. Quiet, enclosed, but the opposite for the coronation. I want everyone to see I’m a king here.”

“I can have that arranged,” Arthur was at least amicable to the idea. “Is there anything else you want while you’re here?”

“I wouldn’t complain about more books,” He said, then somewhat reluctantly: “I also wish to learn the ways of combat this land teaches. Perhaps I was too comfortable in Uruk. I will not settle for being the weaker king.”

“As you wish.”

Gods, what was with the politeness?! He wanted Arthur to fight back in some way, to give orders so he could defy them. Instead, he was the picture of a noble king. “One more thing,”

“Yes?”

“Tell me about the sea monster in the Irish sea.”

“…” Arthur paused. “Perhaps another time.”

With that, Arthur’s cape flourished as he left the room, his wings tucking in after him. Deciding to take full advantage of the now warmed bed, Gilgamesh took the book with him and slid between the covers, lighting a candle beside him as he continued to study Albion and its history. If he were to be a king here, which he absolutely intended, he would not be a fool who didn’t understand the plight of his subjects or the threats that waged against them.

He would be every bit of a legend as Arthur, no matter how much time it took.

Chapter Text

At the very least, it seemed like the advent of the royal wedding was going to be at a standstill until Arthur set the date, but everyone around Gilgamesh seemed to be preparing for it. It was almost as if Arthur wanted that magical day out of the way, and if that were the case, Gilgamesh couldn’t agree more.

Waking up under the piles of furs resting atop his bed, it was a struggle to get out. Breakfast had been set out on a table by the door, still piping hot, but besides the meat he found it tasteless. Hopefully, with their wedding, Britain would get some spices via their trade route and take the hint. He would order a cook to come in from Uruk as soon as he had the power to. He wanted his own band of trusted and loyal people, not just because he was jealous of Arthur’s court, but because he wanted to establish his foothold here.

As soon as a servant entered the room, he ordered them to draw him a hot bath. That in itself would be an entire ordeal of preparing herbs and hot water, but he wasn’t about to let himself go unclean just because it was inconvenient. As they brought him into the bathroom, he was surprised to see it wasn’t at all luxurious like the baths back in Uruk, but rather—a single tub with hot water being brought in by the fire and various chopped plants and petals being scattered on the surface, the scent of roses carrying throughout the room. As he disrobed and hung his clothes up, he dared anyone to look at him as he submerged himself in the almost too hot water.

“… if you seasoned your food as well as you did your baths, maybe I would’ve eaten better this morning,” He said, scornfully. Scrubbing himself with soap and practically hissing at anyone who dared come near to help, he was only satisfied when he was spotless. He finally relented and let a servant rinse him off with hot rose water before taking a warm towel to dry off and slip back into his old clothes. Even if he was thoroughly refreshed, it did little to appease his mood. Pulling his red outer coat around his shoulders, he decided he would find Arthur.

But finding Arthur was not so easy a task.

The man was eternally busy with running a kingdom, after all. It was a miracle he had time to tear away from it all to see Gilgamesh last night, even. Still, when he heard his bride was looking for him, he pardoned himself from speaking with the leader of the Knights of Fianna to go see what he wanted.

“There you are,” Gilgamesh was flippant with him. “I demand we continue where we left off the other evening.”

Perhaps it was the scent of him, now smelling like roses and gentle herbs, but even Gilgamesh could tell that Arthur was enticed. He was staring more than his usual amount, searching his body intently with his eyes. Good luck, Gilgamesh thought, because he wasn’t ceding any touch to Arthur before he had to. He could stare all he wanted! Even if it made Gilgamesh cross his arms over his chest, somewhat annoyed.

“You demand…?”

“The Curruid Coinchenn. Cu Chulainn. What is he?”

“… a good man who was turned feral and beastly by the fae queen for refusing her,” Arthur answered, hesitantly. “He was once a friend.”

“But he’s menacing the waters between Ireland and Albion, isn’t he?”

Arthur seemed hesitant to answer, but the truth was the truth. “He is. We’ve lost many good sailors to him.”

“So someone should take care of him.”

Arthur was already miles ahead of Gilgamesh. “I forbid you from going after him alone.”

“You forbid…?” Gilgamesh chuckled, building into full-blown laughter. “You FORBID? Nobody forbids me from doing whatever I want. I may be your bride, but I am not your pet. You can’t order me to sit still or roll over so you may step over me!”

Maybe Gilgamesh was just pushing Arthur’s buttons into finally laying down an order so he could laugh in his face about it. Arthur’s brows furrowed, and for a moment, his entourage thought he might get angry, but he only responded in a level voice.

“I said alone. If you cannot defeat me in battle, then you certainly cannot defeat him yet. You’d need good knights accompanying you. Strong ones.”

“How big is he? How much harm can one mutated man do?”

“Plenty. Enough. In either case, I won’t allow you to get hurt. If you wish to train with me…”

Just the notion of having to learn combat from Arthur was insulting. Gil prided himself on his strength back home, but it was unrefined, that much was true. Not yet harnessed to its full potential. He couldn’t just launch things at people and expect them to hit a hundred percent of the time. Still, he wasn’t about to let Arthur take all the glory for killing Cu by letting him accompany him. Surely there was someone who was about to head out to sea who could take Gilgamesh out to find him.

“I’m fine. I can handle myself.”

“Don’t do it,” Arthur ordered before trying to divert the topic onto something less violent. “In any case, you look magnificent today. Would you join me in my quarters for a little bit?”

Gilgamesh looked at him somewhat suspiciously, sniffing out the intent behind the words. “Why?”

“I just think we should spend some time getting to know one another, that’s all.”

“Is that an order?”

“A request.”

“Hmph…” Gilgamesh had no reason to say no, as much as he’d like to. Figuring out who your enemies were and what exactly Arthur was to him was important. He could see him being quite taken with the man and his rarity as a dragon if he were a king, but he had been brought low before him and his family essentially paid Arthur to take him. It was hard to see Arthur in any sort of good light because of that.

Still, he followed Arthur to his room, a devious plan in mind.

--

Arthur’s room was spacious and warm as well.

Wooden floors with stone walls, a roaring fireplace and a massive bed to accommodate a massive dragon, papers littered the desk to the south end of the room. The room itself was bathed in firelight and felt designed to be a peaceful reprieve from the busy life he led. Soon, this would be Gilgamesh’s room too. Right now, he wanted to test Arthur’s strength of will.

He was not blind to the fact that Arthur was obviously, obviously attracted to him so the first thing he did was sit on his bed, crossing his legs so that the barest hint of skin was visible through the sheer see-through fabric he wore underneath his garb. His first move was deliberately enticing, sitting somewhere that Arthur could imagine him on his wedding night.

“What is it you would like to talk about?” Gilgamesh stretched, leaning back so that his shirt fell a little more open. Whatever he was doing, it worked, because Arthur was simply staring, now.

“I… would like to discuss your plans for your newly appointed kingship, as well as who you’d have come to join you from your homeland.”

“My plans? I’ve scarcely had time to think of them. I haven’t been given a tour around the castle town, either.” Gilgamesh leaned forward with his chin in his hand. “As I said, I can’t rule people I know nothing about. Is everything all right, Arthur?”

“Of course. Why?”

“You are staring.”

“… It is hard not to.” If anything, at least he was honest.

Gilgamesh stood up, sauntering over to Arthur and circling him, hand grazing his wings as he felt the scales that lined them. “You want me.”

“…”

“What if I told you I don’t care to wait for the wedding? We could… get to know one another a little more in the way we’ll be spending most of our time together.”

He could hear Arthur swallow hard as Gilgamesh walked away from him, sitting on the bed at the very center of its pillows. “Such a weird king… wanting a lion instead of a princess. Do you want someone you can tame rather than someone who’ll obey your every word?”

“I’m afraid I would only hurt a princess,” Arthur answered quietly. “I needed someone hardier. Someone tougher.”

“There are plenty of tough princesses.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Oh, I think I do.” From the angle that Gilgamesh sat, Arthur could very nearly see up the sheer fabric clothed around his waist. “You slay so many things in battle that you can’t find the adrenaline for anything that isn’t a challenge. Is that it? Or… you just prefer male company? Both? You were very intent on having me the moment you saw me.”

“I was.”

“You flew out when you saw my name mentioned in the letter my father sent instead of sending for me. So odd… I barely understand you Arthur, but I’d like to try. Come here.”

Arthur obeyed, sitting on the bed next to Gilgamesh, who rested his hand on Arthur’s thigh, bringing himself up from his sitting position to kneeling. The air between them was thick with tension, as Gilgamesh leaned in close to his face, to his pointed ears, and whispered.

“If you think I’ll give you even a piece of myself before the wedding, you’re out of your mind.”

Arthur sighed, feeling the heavy air vanish but his interest still fired up. Gil merely laughed and sat on the edge of the bed properly, straightening the fabric of his clothes with his hands. Teasing Arthur was a lot of fun, to see someone that enchanted with him get his hopes up and so expertly dashed…! Gil couldn’t keep this up forever, but he would certainly try for as long as he could. It didn’t matter if Arthur was a king, he’d still resist until there was no excuse to anymore.

“If you would kindly return to your quarters…” Arthur began.

“Ah,” Gilgamesh smirked. “Need to tend to yourself? Say no more. I’ll go.”

With that, Gilgamesh climbed up and off of the bed, his hand dragging along Arthur’s shoulder as he walked away, leaving him with just that slightest bit of touch.

--

If he was going to go out to sea, he was going to have to recruit someone to come along for the trip.

Sneaking out of the castle was harder than expected. People noticed him wherever he went, and he couldn’t just tell them he was planning on walking around the marketplace. He had more than enough gold in his treasury to hire a crew that knew where Cu Chulainn drifted around. Donning an unfortunately scratchy brown cloak, he slipped out the window of one of the castle walls, landing elegantly in one of the gardens. He knew that he needed a crew and maybe one strong knight to accompany him, someone who wouldn’t immediately report back to Arthur.

A knight bearing the Fianna crest just happened to be walking by. He was a man of dark, curly hair and pointed wolf ears, a face indisputably handsome and an expression that looked weary, but noble. He wasn’t surrounded by any of the others, so Gil took the opportunity to approach him from behind.

“You there. Knight.”

“Ah--?” Diarmuid looked at him, surprised. “You’re the—”

“Shh. I have a task for you, and you will speak of it to no one.”

Despite the fact that Diarmuid clearly could refuse and go tell someone right away, he listened to Gilgamesh’s tale. How he wished to establish himself as ‘worthy’ of King Arthur by slaying the Curruid Coinchenn before his wedding. (He might have been lying, but for someone as romantic as this knight, the lie was easily bought.) How he needed help, and how Gilgamesh would reward him handsomely if he came along. Gilgamesh reached into his treasury and pulled out a brick of gold as proof of his word, handing it to Diarmuid carelessly, as if it were made of stone.

“I won’t take all the credit, either,” Gilgamesh spurred him on. “You will return to your captain with glory. Doesn’t it sound fun? And you’ll be saving the lives of your people who try to cross into Albion.”

“If… the bride of the king wishes it of me—”

“We’ll depart as soon as I have a boat.”

--

Diarmuid followed Gilgamesh through the castle town, as people walked around the two of them, none the wiser that the bride to be was amongst them. Animals of all kinds. Birds, fish, dogs, cats, beasts as tall as six feet and as small as four feet. Some you couldn’t tell what kind of creature they were, some you could only guess. As Gilgamesh found his way to the docks, he found a bar beside it, hoping to recruit someone inside.

As people drowned their worries in ale, he saw what was clearly a group of mariners, gills on their necks and webbed fingers, grinned and approached.

“Are you in search of a job?” He announced to what appeared to be their leader.

“Who’s asking?”

Gilgamesh tossed a few gold coins onto the table. “The person buying you all rounds for tonight.”

With a cheer, the men quickly had him and the knight sit by them. Anyone who bought drinks was welcome. The captain was quick to make conversation.

“What kind of job are ye lookin’ for?”

“I’m looking to slay a sea monster.”

The men, drinking their ale rambunctiously, suddenly quieted and turned to face him. The captain, though, remained cheerful.

“Looking for kelpie meat? Or maybe some sirens?”

“I want the Curruid Coinchenn dead.”

At that, the men broke into laughter, including the captain. “Oh, boy, no sailor worth his salt would dare take up an offer like that.”

Gilgamesh opened a portal of his treasury, gold and jewels spilling out of it in messy droves. The men stared at it, looking at Gilgamesh as if he were insane, or perhaps if he were going to allow them to pick it all up.

“If you consider this a down payment, more will come later.”

The sea captain looked at him, squinting his eyes before knocking back the hood on Gilgamesh’s head. “Just who are ye, boy…?”

“I am the betrothed of King Arthur, and I am going to etch my legend into this land with Cu Chulainn’s blood.”

The men were looking at their captain somewhat nervously, their fates within his hands, but also greedily at the money they were presented with. It could buy a lifetime of luxury, out of the life of a sailor and into something more comfortable just with the down payment. Even if some of them left widows behind, just a bit of this gold could last them a lifetime.

“Can you fight?”

“Hah! Can I fight? If it’s as simple as harpooning an animal, then there’s no better person qualified than me,” He gestured to Diarmuid. “This Knight of Fianna will accompany us. If I can’t handle it, then surely he can.”

In truth, Diarmuid wasn’t interested in the money so much as he was worried about Gilgamesh going off on his own. He’d seen that kind of headstrong determination before and had a feeling that even if he warned the king, he would be off and do this anyway, alone. He also wanted to see that demon at sea perish, as many good men had been lost to it. He trusted his lance and his own conviction in being able to do it.

The captain told him to be back at dawn the next morning. They would sail to the sight where the beast was last spotted.

--

Gilgamesh was confident as they disembarked. He’d slipped out of the castle after bribing a maid with even more gold to conceal his disappearance as long as possible. Hopefully, he’d be bringing back the head of a sea monster before anyone realized he was gone.

They said that Cu resided where storms gathered in an unusual pattern, not obeying the laws of nature. It was hours as they sailed before they spotted something close to it. The strike of lightning in the distance from clouds that didn’t seem to move with the wind.

“There he is,” The captain said quietly.

“Bring us in,” Gilgamesh ordered, readying the Gates of Babylon to spear and chain whatever came up to the surface of the ship. Diarmuid looked at him, bracing himself for a fight.

There was an unsettling quiet as the ship sailed forward into the rough waters, as lightning broke up the silence. No rain fell. Now, no one knew how big the once ‘child of light’ actually was. It was just well known enough that he could capsize a boat at will and his spear could pierce through the strongest vessels and sink them. Gilgamesh, however, was confident that he could chain him before that happened, then slice off his head in one fell swoop.

A shadow could be seen underwater from a distance, even in the darkness. Gilgamesh stood at the front of the ship, gates at the ready, waiting for the beast to strike.

He didn’t expect it to come in such full force that it rocked the boat the moment the beast hit the side of it. Long, red claws puncturing the wood, climbing up over the side, roaring in absolute rage. He was ten feet tall, sharp red thorns on all parts of him, blue hair clinging wetly to his skin as he snarled at the captain. Instantly, chains shot out to hold him from limb to limb, threatening to tear him apart, before he looked towards Diarmuid.

“Well,” He said, gesturing to the beast. “He’s all yours.”

Not one to hesitate, Diarmuid charged with his lance, aiming for the beast’s heart, as the sound of metal clinking and breaking rang out.

His chains were breaking.

Immediately, Cu was upon Diarmuid, knocking the lance out of his hand and pinning him to the floorboards, but not before Gilgamesh regained his footing and sent weapon after weapon at him, but the thing was so fast. It was off of Diarmuid and narrowly escaping the barrage of weapons, correctly guessing that Gilgamesh was the threat to pay attention to. The prince narrowly dodged as Cu launched himself at him, sending out even more chains to gain space from him, but it was clear they wouldn’t hold Cu.

“Damn it! Diarmuid, do something!”

Diarmuid was thoroughly shaken, wondering why Cu hadn’t killed him. He grabbed his lance and pointed it at the beast as it tried to break through the second wave of chains, ready to swing just as Cu snapped through them. The sailors had all scattered and went below deck, praying for their lives. It was just the captain at the head of the boat now, trying to steer them back to clear waters and hoping Cu wouldn’t follow.

Quickly, Gilgamesh realized he had bitten off more than he could chew. As soon as he finally pierced Cu’s chest with a blade, Cu merely stood up, ripped the blade out of his own chest as the wound healed, and launched it back at Gilgamesh with such force it split the wood behind them.

“These are my seas,” His voice was a gravelly echo. “This is my territory. Die.”

Diarmuid, ever noble, threw himself in front of Gilgamesh before Cu could slash him to ribbons, but his clawed hand hovered in the air when it was Diarmuid in front of him. He just stared at the knight with a strange, transfixed look as Diarmuid held his lance aloft.

The sound of flapping wings and a set of footsteps on deck could be heard. Cu turned his head to see the King grace him with his presence. Practically dripping with anticipation at the idea of a fair fight, he turned away from Diarmuid and Gilgamesh to focus his full attention on the dragon.

Diarmuid grabbed Gilgamesh and pulled him into the captain’s chambers, as sword met steel claws, to the point where each clash of the blade made sparks. Arthur had the advantage of the air, he could jump off the boat and stay afloat as he divebombed him with his sword, and Cu had the advantage of the water, diving into it and launching himself at Arthur when the opportunity arose. Arthur’s blade nearly took the head off his neck had Cu not caught it between his teeth, an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, as the blade would not shatter even if he crunched down on it.

Arthur’s armor, though, was a different story. Cu’s claws had pierced it and left garish red scratches across his back. The king knew that this beast if left to its devices, would kill and kill everything that crossed its path until there was nothing left, and so, even though he resolved for this only to be a rescue mission, he decided he must die.

“I am sorry, old friend—” Arthur spat, clashing his blade against Cu’s winding, clawed armor, as Cu roared back at him. Taking a deep breath, he sent a ball of flame in his direction, scorching his flesh and causing him to reel back before charging again. This Cu was mindless when it came to battle, his only desire was to kill.

Even as Arthur sliced his belly open in one fell swoop as he rushed by him, Cu only needed to hold the wound closed for a moment before it sealed up. Cursed never to die by the fae queen, Cu recklessly chased death from anything divine that could bless him with it, but he wouldn’t go down without a fight. He couldn’t. Even as Excalibur began to glow golden, Cu charged to face it head-on.

Blasted back by one swing of the sword, Cu hung over the edge of the boat, claws clung into the side of it as Diarmuid rushed out to help Arthur, Gilgamesh following now that the knight was no longer holding him back. Holding his sword aloft with the intent of driving it into his skull and killing him once and for all, Cu made a move neither of them would’ve expected.

He grabbed Diarmuid and dropped off the side of the ship, sinking into the water with him. He had gone where Arthur could not catch him, where his fire was worthless and his wings would only encumber him. Cursing at the loss of a good knight, Gilgamesh sent his chains into the water as if to fish him out, to give Diarmuid something to grab onto, but he had already gone too deep. The Curruid Coinchenn had claimed him as prey.

The clouds began to dissipate, the boat still standing, as Gilgamesh knew he had irrevocably screwed up.

“I hope you have learned the strength that lies ahead of you when you go into something unprepared. I have to report to the Captain of the Knights of Fianna that we have lost one of his best men on a suicide mission my bride attempted,” Arthur scolded Gilgamesh fiercely.

“I suppose you no longer want me?” Gilgamesh queried, cautiously.

“I do, but you will have to learn your place here. Even I couldn’t defeat the beast. What hope would you have?”

Gilgamesh, instead of taking those words to heart, only etched one thing into his mind: revenge, against the beast who had shown him up.

--

It turned out, not all was lost.

Diarmuid washed up on the shore the next day, perfectly alive, even with his blessed lance, but his clothes in tatters.

He brought the strangest story with him. The Curruid Coinchenn had dragged him to an underwater cave where he could breathe only to stare at him for the longest time. He spoke of nothing, instead piercing a fish with his spear and telling Diarmuid to eat. It was almost as if he wanted to keep him down there but quickly realized there was no water that Diarmuid could safely drink. That was when he dragged him back under and left him on the shore.

Fionn joked about how the mole under his eye saved his life, and Diarmuid lowered his head and apologized for accompanying the bride of the king on such a reckless journey, and that he’d accept any punishment for his misdeed. Fionn told him he’d think about it—after the wedding. They were guests for it, after all.

Gilgamesh was no closer to leaving his mark on Albion as Arthur had, and the wedding was still on.

Damn it all.

Chapter Text

Gilgamesh rose the next morning to hear news of his wedding; it would take place the following Sunday.

His retainers were just beginning to arrive from Uruk, all of them accepting English clothing instead of the way too sparse fashion commonly worn back home. Only Gilgamesh was stubbornly wearing the ceremonial garb he’d been dressed in, and misery loved company, so he nearly ordered all of them to dress the same. That was when Arthur stepped in and said it wasn’t necessary. He had a cook, a tailor, and a few lions who were there as companions and to help him adjust to life in Albion. With a bitter taste in his mouth, Gilgamesh realized that his father had sent absolutely no friends of his.

Though not exactly common, it was not unheard of for kings to pick fellow kings instead of queens or princesses. Some simply had their preferences. Others wanted to avoid nepotism and didn’t consider bloodlines or dynasties a viable way of rule. Some were a mix of both, like Arthur. Gilgamesh had been enjoying teasing Arthur, letting his tail brush against his leg or sending him a look across the room that feigned interest. Arthur was really taken with him despite it, or perhaps because of it. Gilgamesh was the only person in that castle who didn’t answer to Arthur’s demands, instead eschewing them in favor of his own whims. For once, there was someone in Arthur’s life he couldn’t control, and the slight chaos it added gave his life flavor.

There was also the fact that Arthur was taken with him physically. This was obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes, that it took the king considerable effort to keep his regal demeanor up and not seize Gil and throw him over his shoulder. Gilgamesh used this to his advantage as often as he could, taking his hand and kissing his wrist, letting his large hands cup the side of his head and brush gently over his furred ears. Anyone would think they were sharing a tender moment, but to the two of them, Gilgamesh was just blatantly bullying him. Perhaps that was why the date had been set so quickly.

Suddenly, Gilgamesh’s life got a lot busier.

He was to stand still as traditional wedding garb from Uruk was pinned and sewn around his form. The outfit he’d worn before was more or less gift-wrap, designed to show off his lithe body to the prospective bride or groom. The real garment was to be made of sheer white fabric in accordance with Albion’s traditions, but more the style of his homeland. Though he’d initially thrown quite the fit in getting here, it was inelegant to continue fighting meaningless battles now that he was here. He let them put a veil on him as he observed the incomplete outfit in a mirror, sighed, and dismissed his tailor to finish the work off of his body as he removed the garment. He’d have to pick his battles from now on, and being dragged kicking and screaming down the aisle wasn’t an option.

As he got dressed once more, he decided to seek out his husband-to-be.

As servants passing in the hall told him he was in the library, Gilgamesh carefully navigated his way throughout the castle. He felt like teasing him a bit more, now that he essentially showed he couldn’t keep his hands off him longer than a week.

Arthur didn’t need a ladder to reach the books on the highest shelf—all he had to do was reach and they’d be within his grasp. These were books on Sumerian culture, and Gil recognized them as such right away.

“Trying to appease me by brushing up on where I come from?” Gilgamesh put his hand over the book as Arthur read it and lowered it. “You should know better.”

“I just want to make sure we use some of your traditions here. I don’t want you to feel totally isolated.”

“You know, back home, we’d ignore the traditions of the bride in order to integrate them more thoroughly into our society.”

“As I’ve said before, I don’t intend to do it like that.”

“Do you think you’re better than my culture?”

“I think I just want to extend you some kindness, Gilgamesh.”

“So I’ll roll over in bed for you easier?” Gilgamesh rolled his eyes. “You are so easy to read.”

“No… because you must be lonely.”

That made Gil freeze, the concern on his behalf completely unwarranted. For some reason, all it did was serve to piss him off, because he was right, and he had no right to be right!

“Spare me your pity,” Gilgamesh’s voice was a drawl. “I can handle myself just fine here, despite you thinking I’m some virgin flower, needing to be tended to. I can serve my duties to you and the kingdom just fine without any special treatment.”

“… about that—"

“Hm?”

“Are you… untouched?”

That caused Gilgamesh to guffaw, nearly doubling over in laughter after staring at Arthur for a moment to see if he was truly serious. “I’m afraid if you wanted a pure bride, you’re out of luck!”

“No, that’s a good thing. I was hoping for a partner with experience.”

“Good, because if there’s one side of you I want to see, it’s how you are when your little self-imposed shackles are broken. Everyone can see you’re restraining yourself.”

“…” Arthur didn’t have much to say to that. “Is that why you’re here?”

“To dangle me in front of you like a piece of meat? No, but it’s a fun side-effect.” In truth, Gilgamesh didn’t have a very good reason to be here at all, but he wasn’t about to let Arthur know that. Mostly, he just wanted to be around his betrothed to observe him, to see what kind of a man he was. “Did you bump up the wedding so we’d sleep together sooner?”

“Mostly I wanted it out of the way so the coronation can happen. I feel like you’ll be more at home then.”

True, Gilgamesh would feel more comfortable with power to wield. Was it irritating that Arthur could read him so well so quickly? … a little. “We both know the real reason, King Arthur.”

“… think what you will.” It seemed he would only let Gilgamesh tease him so much.

--

Merlin knew his king had a penchant for falling in love at first sight. He showed little interest in anything else once he had his mind and heart set on something or someone, and he’d only narrowly avoided disaster with Guinevere because of Merlin’s clairvoyance forewarning him of the trouble that would befall Camelot if he found himself wedded to her. That and other issues with the idea of marrying her.

He advised Arthur before he left for Uruk that his new king would be ‘loyal, but a bit of a pain. Power-hungry. Something of a tyrant if left unchecked’. It seemed his king was incapable of falling in love with someone who was smooth sailing. He answered his king’s questions as he brought them to him, and reassured him that Gilgamesh wouldn’t bring Camelot’s downfall, but to definitely… keep an eye on that one. He’ll want land and territory, to feel like a real king. Arthur asked what was wrong with that, and Merlin just cheerfully said ‘Oh! Everything.’

Still, giving Arthur all the answers would be a bit boring, so he decided to help Gilgamesh with that little potion of his and leave the two of them to sort it out on their own.

--

Soon, the wedding was just nights away. Gilgamesh’s wedding garb sat on a dress form in the corner of his room, completed. At the very least, he was eating now that his cook had taken up residence in Camelot’s kitchen and made do with what they had. He didn’t understand how Arthur could tolerate such bland food—he supposed his wedding gift to him would be expanding his palate. Apparently, it was a tradition that one couldn’t see the bride before the wedding here, which suited Gilgamesh just fine. All there was to do now was consider what his life would be like now that he was going to become a fully-fledged king.

He’d make demands for power, of course, he wasn’t going to sit as idly as a queen would. His plans to earn respect by slaughtering Cu Chulainn had ended poorly, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t earn the respect of Arthur’s knights another way. He knew Arthur had an edge over him, seniority and was well-beloved. No one in the castle was ever used to the fact that the legendary King Arthur walked the halls, looking at Gil with reverence and jealousy for being able to capture his heart.

As much as he hated to admit it, this was the fastest and easiest track to kingship that Gilgamesh had been offered. Arthur was right, he’d have to kill his brothers if he wanted the throne in Uruk, and though he had almost zero qualms about it, Albion seemed to possess a great deal more influence. So what if he had to mate with the king? Sacrifices. Besides, with Arthur’s apparent hunger, it might be fun even.

As he sat on his bed, he looked over the potion Merlin had given him on his first day here. It was bright orange, almost poisonous-looking, and after uncorking it, it smelled like anise and honey. He was tempted to try a sip of it then and there, before deciding that Arthur’s personal mage was probably not to be trusted. He had no doubts this wouldn’t kill him, but his cryptic way of giving it to him made him hold off.

He’d been told that the guests for the wedding would be composed of the Round Table, Gilgamesh’s retainers, and a few special people of Arthur’s choosing. That was fine with him. So long as it wasn’t too many people seeing him dressed up like that, he’d be fine.

--

On the day of the arranged marriage, Gilgamesh noticed the castle halls were flooded with people.

“Did he lie to me…?” Gilgamesh was on the verge of furious as they dressed him in his wedding adornments, holding out his arms as they pulled his sleeves on.

“King Arthur said that the ceremony would be private… not the feast afterward,” said one of his retainers apologetically.

Great. So he would have to be seen like this. He let them pin his veil into place but refused to take the bouquet of flowers when it was passed to him. He may be married off as a bride, but after his coronation, he would be a king. When he looked into the mirror, his outfit similar to the one he arrived in except far more ornate, he contemplated his reflection. Arthur would get his bride and Gilgamesh would get his crown. A fair trade, even if it was one he wished he didn’t have to make.

--

On the walk to the chapel, Gilgamesh spied a few guests he recognized.

The King of Conquerors and his brilliant tactician. Ozymandias, an old rival, with one of his own brides. He could hardly believe they’d come out all this way for the feast that would follow his wedding, but then again, Ozymandias probably would never pass up an opportunity to see Gilgamesh looking like this.

Flanked on either side by his retainers, the chapel doors opened for him as he made the walk down the aisle, looking at Arthur standing beside the officiator, his gaze then flitting across the room at all of the guests. They were all watching him intently. He recognized the Knights of Fianna, including the one he nearly got killed. Treading over the flower petals on the ground, he finally stood opposite of Arthur, who was staring. Whatever, he could stare all he liked. This would be the last time he saw him dressed like this.

He wasn’t any closer to understanding this man than when he first met him. All he knew was that Arthur was simple enough to want what he wanted and damn the consequences that could follow, and that was what led them here today. Gilgamesh focused intently on him as the ceremony pressed on, listening to the droning words of the priest and watching as Arthur could scarcely take his eyes off him, even with the veil on. Gilgamesh was no fool, Arthur couldn’t love him, at least not yet, but he was taken with him regardless.

Soon enough, the priest was finished. As Arthur lifted his veil over his head to lean down and kiss him to the sound of polite applause around them, Gilgamesh tilted his head upward to meet the kiss properly. The ring that had been on his finger since their first meeting had been swapped for another, more permanent ring, and realizing the burden of procuring a ring for Arthur had fallen on his shoulders, he took a simple golden band out of his treasury and slipped it onto Arthur’s ring finger.

“You will want for nothing,” Arthur said, quiet enough that only Gilgamesh could hear. “I promise.”

“Neither will you," Gilgamesh responded mysteriously.

--

Wine and mead flowed freely from the taps of barrels as the celebration took off. Food that had been worked on for days in preparation finally rolled out to the tables. Gilgamesh took his seat beside Arthur as guests approached and gave their congratulations. Gilgamesh might have had a haughty, regal importance about him, but he had none of the demure attitude of a bride. He drank his fill of wine and chatted with other kings as if he were on their level—because he would be, and soon. Ozymandias was quick to approach him, looking over his outfit with appraisal.

“If I had known you would accept a proposal from a king, I would’ve snatched you up myself, Gilgamesh.”

“Feh. I’d prefer to be the only bride, rather than be in a harem of them.”

“Your loss,” Ozymandias said coyly. Arthur shot the other king a look, as if he were already protective of his mate and didn’t appreciate talk like that. The pharaoh wisely backed off. “You have my congratulations nonetheless.”

The two chatted like old friends because Ozymandias was the only ‘friend’ Gilgamesh had that showed up. For Arthur, it was nice to finally see Gil act relaxed in good company. The two were increasingly kept apart by guests making conversation, but the lion always noticed Arthur’s gaze flitting back to look at him. Gilgamesh could only guess why.

As he took his seat back at the head table, leaving Ozymandias to chat with others, Gilgamesh surveyed his new position with a bit more respect. His position now was to keep the peace among these guests, and while Arthur handled it with ease, only time would prove if Gilgamesh had the same knack for being king that Arthur did. He had nothing but faith in himself and the conviction that he could be just as great, if not greater, coming from the humble beginnings of a third son and building and refining himself into something fantastic.

When Arthur took a seat next to him, night had fallen hours ago, but the party showed no signs of stopping. It’d probably carry on for days on end, so Gilgamesh tapped his shoulder.

“I’m tired,” He said, showing no signs of being so. “Can we retire for the evening?”

Arthur stared at him for but a moment before nodding, addressing the room one last time and leaving—Gil slipping his hand into the crook of his arm as Arthur held it out and following him.

--

Gilgamesh had it all under control.

As soon as he entered that familiar room of Arthur’s, the first thing he did was turn on the dragon and pin him to the door, as well as someone with their size difference could. Dragging his head down low with one hand, Gilgamesh craned up for a kiss. Now he’d have the treat of seeing just how hungry a beast Arthur was, and the supreme privilege of taming a dragon.

He didn’t anticipate how much Arthur would let go of his restraint.

Instantly, Arthur’s lips crushed against his, pulling Gilgamesh’s frame against him, tongue delving past his lips to taste him. Gil’s eyes shot open immediately, but not one to show weakness, he kissed back, running his tongue along Arthur’s fangs, wanting to see how dangerously sharp they were. Perhaps he was more curious about this than he let on before, when he was just taunting him, perhaps there was a side of him that was truly excited to feel Arthur lift him by his hips so that their heads were level with one another. Arthur was powerfully strong, he could feel it as his nails dug into his formal attire. He was as solidly built as Camelot’s walls, so as he walked to their shared bed, lips still locked together at a languorous pace, Gil could feel the sinew of his body move beneath his grasp. Fully expecting to be dumped on the bed unceremoniously, Arthur took another approach—he sat down first, propping up his legs on the bed and letting Gilgamesh’s body mold to the shape of him as he climbed over him.

Seizing control as soon as Arthur relented it for that one moment, Gil planted both his hands on either side of him, letting their hips grind together as the silken fabric of his wedding garb flowed and gathered to the side, off the bed. If there was one thing he prided himself on, it was the pursuit of pleasure and everything related to it—how many times had he done this song and dance with girls back home? This same setting, without the wedding attached? He was pleased to feel Arthur reacting beneath him as he worked love bites into his collar bone, undoing the top of his shirt so he’d have access. It seemed Arthur was content to touch him for now, finally able to run his sizable hands and talons gently over Gilgamesh’s body, eventually settling at his hips.

“Are you this easy to tease with everyone…?” Gilgamesh mocked, overlooking his work on his skin with appreciation.

“Only you, now.” He murmured back.

Gilgamesh took advantage of the moment to touch his wings, now relaxed and splayed out beneath him on the bed; their soft, shimmering surface hiding the raw power they held. Arthur was very calm letting Gilgamesh explore him, touching him all over, brushing his fingertips against his scales (surprisingly smooth) and planting his hips on top of Arthur’s.

Now, Gilgamesh had the idea already that he wouldn’t be the one on top and had made his peace with it somewhat begrudgingly, but he hadn’t exactly had … experience with it. Sure, he hadn’t lied when he said he wasn’t untouched, but he didn’t have any practice being a submissive partner. He was confident he could handle it, though. After all, it was just sex, and he figured pleasing a dragon king would be like pleasing anyone.

With a slight ‘mmph’ against Arthur’s lips, he realized he could feel the man growing hard beneath his hips’ motions, spurring him to keep moving with his clothed frottage, loving watching the expression on the other man’s face grow intense. As his thighs moved, he realized—huh, this dragon is a bit big. He’d anticipated as much but hadn’t really thought about it since then. No matter. He was still a man and that meant he couldn’t be that unwieldy. He, too, was getting hot under the belt from his own actions, certainly spurred on by Arthur’s enthusiasm.

Sitting up with his hips planted firmly against Arthur’s, he finally began to undress. Tossing off the veil first, then the sash around his waist, then the outer robe, followed by the inner robe.

“You look surprised.” Gilgamesh grinned down at him.

“You were wearing nothing under there this entire time…?”

“I thought it might be exciting for you. Well, is it?”

He didn’t have to answer, Arthur’s body spoke volumes for him. “Let’s get you undressed—”

“Wait,” Arthur held up a hand. “Wait.”

“Hm? Now’s a little late to have last-minute secrets.”

Arthur’s face was just barely tinted red in the warm firelight. “Are you sure you want this?”

…? “Even I wouldn’t deny you this. You’ve been hungering for it since the moment we met, and I suppose it’s traditional.”

“Well,” Arthur began. “You’ll see.”

Stripping out of his formal wear, first his shirt, then hesitating before he unbuckled and unbuttoned his pants.

Gilgamesh stared.

Suddenly, he backed up on the bed several feet away from Arthur almost comically.

“What the hell is— how on earth did you hide that thing? It’s—it can’t fit! There’s no way that’ll fit anyone!”

Arthur looked somewhat ashamed, as if he’d been trying to convey this entire time to Gilgamesh and the message simply didn’t get through until the last minute. Gil’s ears had completely turned around on his head, like a hissing cat having just seen a snake. It had to have been at least nine inches—but that alone would be manageable, if not for how thick—

Gilgamesh finally understood why Arthur didn’t want to take a woman as a bride. There was just no way, which was terribly considerate if you didn’t count the situation Gilgamesh found himself in now.

“Does it look like I have child-bearing hips, Arthur? Is that why you chose me, because it looked like I could take it—”

“I would never choose anyone based on my ability to—” Arthur put a hand against his face, looking a little stressed.

“… Merlin gave me a potion that he said I should save for my wedding night.” Gilgamesh said, suddenly.

“Don’t take just anything Merlin gives you,” Arthur warned.

“Ha!” Gilgamesh pointed at him. “He’s your court mage, and you don’t trust him—”

“I trust him, I just don’t know if you should.”

Well,” Gilgamesh huffed. “Unless you have any bright ideas…”

“… I have one.” Despite everything, Arthur was still looking at him and his arousal hadn’t diminished any.

“That is?”

“We don’t have to consummate like that, at least not yet. But it would be a shame to get this far and not have a taste of you.” Gilgamesh noticed his eyes were carrying a dark hunger to them, like he wasn’t about to let his prey escape without playing with it first. Eyes flitting back and forth between his nude form and his face, Gil wondered what he was driving at.

“Oh?”

“Your thighs.”

Ah, that was one way to get off. “I suppose… I can allow that much for now.”

“You’ll have to get me wet,” Arthur was now definitely playing with him to get what he wanted. “It’ll just chafe if they’re not slippery enough.”

Only one way to do that. Gilgamesh finally, hesitantly crawled forward, between his legs. This much he had done before, but he’d have to be careful because of his teeth. Seeing this thing up close, how Arthur’s scales covered the side of it, how it had little touches that made it just a bit less human and more dragonlike, how it must feel inside of someone—it made Gilgamesh shudder. Okay, okay. He’d kept him waiting long enough. Placing one hand around the base of his cock, Gilgamesh’s tongue began to lap at him, his ears turned downward from being dragged so low to do something like this. Arthur gently pat his head as he let drool drip from his tongue to make him slick, moving his head around so that the persistent lapping of his tongue covered just about everywhere, and gods was it a lot of territory to cover.

Still, the taste wasn’t terrible and it was exciting looking up at Arthur’s expression as it changed from calm to walking a tightrope of composure. He could tell this man wanted to fuck him badly, not just his thighs—and there’s a certain pride in feeling so wanted that people will break down for you. Gilgamesh could only probably tolerate it by his next mating cycle, whenever that was.

By the time he had coated him in his spit, he wondered if this would be enough, but he didn’t have time to think about it very long before Arthur bowled him over, laying him flat against the bedding and crisscrossing his legs so his thighs would be tightly pushed together.

“Forgive me,” Arthur murmured. “I can’t take it any longer.”

“Hmph…”

As he pushed his cock between his thighs, Gilgamesh became keenly aware of his own neglected arousal as Arthur began to drive into them. His spit had done the job, legs feeling slippery enough to accommodate him as he thrusted over and over, his cock barely grazing Gilgamesh’s own. This didn’t seem fair, so far he had done all of the work with none of the pleasure, but still, he couldn’t help but buck upwards whenever Arthur’s cock slipped through his thighs, craving some kind of touch, any.

Arthur was lost in his own movements, though, and it didn’t seem like he would let up anytime soon. As he fucked his thighs relentlessly, holding his legs together tightly, Gilgamesh could hear him pant. His hand started to wander to his own cock before Arthur took it and pinned it to his side.

“No,” He ordered, taking Gilgamesh by surprise. “I’ll help you later.”

The sentiment was there—he didn’t want Gilgamesh to spoil his appetite by getting himself off, but he really wanted to be touched, damn it! It felt like ages, staring up at the ceiling and pressing his thighs tightly together as Arthur fucked him so thoroughly, so passionately that Gilgamesh almost didn’t realize it was just his thighs. If he was like this with his legs, what was going to happen when they took the next step? It was kind of… hot, thinking about that if he ignored what a pain it was going to be. That would be his fantasy for the next several minutes, bedding the dragon properly while he didn’t have to think about getting hurt.

Each time the tip emerged from the soft confines of his inner thighs, he could feel the full size of his length brush up against him and it was almost hypnotic to watch. Watching Arthur enjoy himself with his body… well, Gilgamesh didn’t hate it, per se.

Finally, his body jerked to a quicker speed, wrapping his arms around both legs as he fucked into them, Gilgamesh able to tell he was at his limit. Still, he had endurance for lasting so long, when he was solely out for his own pleasure. When he came, it was forceful. The first strand of cum going so far as to hit Gilgamesh in the chin, his hips kept twitching with each crashing wave, covering his bride with white, translucent strands of seed. He finally let go of Gilgamesh’s thighs, letting them spread in front of him as Gilgamesh surveyed the mess with a little disgust.

“You said you were going to help me…?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow.

Happy to oblige, Arthur wrapped his hand around Gilgamesh’s dick, pulling gently so as not to hurt him, but quickly enough for Gil’s appetite. Finally, some touch…! It took restraint not to come then and there, after the constant teasing from before.

“I want you to fuck me next time—” Now seemed like as good of a time as any for some dirty talk, trying to get Arthur excited again. “Properly. We’ll—we’ll see what Merlin gave me and… see if it helps—”

“Don’t say that mage’s name in bed, please…” Arthur groaned slightly, trying to bring Gil to fruition as Gil resisted showing how touch-starved he felt. His grip was wonderfully warm that Gil was involuntarily bucking again, Arthur watching him softly as his body betrayed eagerness he was trying to hide. The slow rock of his hips as Arthur’s hand moved up and down was now completely in tandem.

“D… damn it…” His ears flattening against his head, his whole body shuddered as he came, adding to the mess on his torso. For a moment, Arthur just stared at him, taking in either his beauty or the complete lewdness of the sight before letting go.

“Grab my wedding garb,” Gilgamesh ordered. “I need to wipe myself off.”

“Surely a towel would do,” Arthur balked.

“Fine, a towel then—if you’re so prepared.”

It turned out, Arthur was. A small, hot basin had been prepared beside his bed, which he dunked a small towel into before gingerly cleaning Gil up. It felt like Arthur was grooming him delicately, and he wasn’t sure how to feel about that. As soon as he was cleaned up, he sat up next to Arthur, pushing at his shoulders.

Arthur didn’t budge.

“What are you—”

“Pushing you into the bed, obviously. Do you think my appetite can be sated with just one round? I wish to know you intimately, Arthur. Do not disappoint me.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t as if, when they had sex (kind of), things would just be easy between Gilgamesh and Arthur.

Sharing a bed with him was strange. Arthur easily took up most of the space and Gilgamesh suspected it was because he wanted to cuddle with him. As Gil rolled towards the edge of the bed, Arthur correspondingly moved in closer, and sooner or later, his arm would be around his waist at the very edge of the bed, as if holding onto him and preventing him from falling over the side. Gilgamesh didn’t love it. It was nice to be held sometimes, but Arthur occasionally breathed embers in his sleep, and Gilgamesh could feel them scorch the sides of his ears.

It was still very awkward between them between now and the coronation. They were still effectively strangers who had gotten intimate.

Gilgamesh was power-hungry, that much was obvious to anyone around him, so the coronation was the thing he looked forward to the most. Seemingly giving up on teasing Arthur, now he was intensely studying Albion and its inhabitants, thinking that a good king would seize more territory for the land and secure more subjects to kneel at his throne. Arthur was no stranger to lecturing him on the whole idea of ‘seizing glory’ when the road to glory was one of hard work and service to your kingdom. People would love Gilgamesh if he loved them in turn, and Gilgamesh thought that was a load of nonsense. People could love him if he traveled that route, sure, but they wouldn’t revere him like they did Arthur, and it was important to be a legend outside of Arthur’s shadow.

Perhaps Arthur wanted him to be content with his life here, and though that wasn’t ignoble, it completely ignored Gilgamesh’s need to be something greater. True, he could spend his life in complete bliss, his only duty to tend to his king, but he was a king, too.

He finally donned the clothing of Albion, a jacket that matched Arthur’s in shades of crimson and gold and pants with black leather boots. He demanded only the finest, to not be dressed down so that he would look like less than the king. He knelt before the ceremonial officiator, recited his lines as if he knew them from birth, and bowed as they rested the golden circlet atop his head, specifically forged for him. This time, everyone notable stood in the room, and as he turned, they applauded the second king of Albion. A swell of pride rose in his chest, even as Arthur stood beside him. What Gilgamesh didn’t notice was the doubt on people’s faces, the concern that a lion could rule as well as a dragon, that Gilgamesh’s nature could get in the way.

People would have their doubts and worries. Gilgamesh concerned himself with neither. He was certain he was born for this position. Fate lead him here, to take hold of his destiny by using a dragon king’s power as his own.

--

The Knights of Fianna were meant to go home, but Diarmuid couldn’t tear his eyes away from the ocean.

The Child of Light was once a beacon of hope for Ireland, his story now twisted by the fae queen who cursed him. That small instance of mercy, what was it? What had possessed Cu Chulainn not to kill him that very second? The wolf touched his own cheek, unsure. He, too, had been touched by the fae, and he’d gladly call it a curse for all the trouble it had caused him. In that sense, he saw Cu’s story as pitiful rather than monstrous, a once-great hero destined to die young only died in spirit as a monster took over his mind.

What could Diarmuid do to help? It was crazy to think he could bring him back to his senses, and yet he very badly wanted to try. Cu was important, he thought, more important than he was, and being in Albion all this time had made him wonder if such a thing was possible if it could even be done. All of Gilgamesh’s talk about legends had gotten to him, and he almost resented the king for it. Now Cu Chulainn was on his mind, corrupted into madness, and Diarmuid was thinking of fancy-free thoughts like saving him.

Fionn told him not to waste his energy, just because Cu Chulainn never attacked him didn’t mean he wouldn’t miss the opportunity next time. Still, why not leave him in that underwater cave to die? Why did he spear him a fish to eat raw and just sat on the edge of the cave, staring at him? It couldn’t be his own curse, that was a charm that only worked on women. Maybe it extended to people who had been touched by the fae too? That was the only reasonable explanation that Diarmuid had.

“Sir…?”

“Yes, Diarmuid?”

“I would like permission to stay in Albion for a little while longer,” Feeling guilty about lying, he decided to go for the truth. “I want to see if there’s a way to save the Child of Light. If there isn’t ancient magic here that can’t help him.”

“Really… your fascinations can go too far. But, I suppose you’ve never strayed from the pack once in your life. A little independence can do you some good. Send word when you come back.”

“Thank you, a thousand times, thank you—” Though he couldn’t help but suspect Fionn wanted to get rid of him for a little while, he was grateful for the permission all the same. The first thing Diarmuid would have to do was make sure that if Albion’s second king went hunting for Cu Chulainn again, he would be there, or even seek him out on his own. See if the beast couldn’t be reasoned with, and if he could, what he might know of breaking his own curse. Seeking out King Arthur, he gained his permission to stay in the castle for the sake of breaking the curse, Arthur recognizing his steadfastness as soon as he saw it. That would be a more humane solution than letting Gilgamesh have his way.

Tasking himself with a test too daunting for most people, Diarmuid almost saw it like a calling, to bring back the hero of his people alive and most importantly, sane.

--

Gilgamesh’s station as a king was almost immediately (and quite to his annoyance) ignored.

People were still listening to Arthur’s words, even as he sat on the throne beside him, they went to Arthur before they ever considered asking for Gilgamesh’s advice. He wasn’t dumb, he knew why, but it still felt like a blow to his pride to only be looked at as the king’s bride, unknowledgeable and fiery. Every time he interjected, Arthur let him speak before adding in his own advice, clearly doing his best to make Gilgamesh feel included with the decision-making, but in the end, it only felt patronizing.

While the lions from home listened to Gilgamesh’s every word and order, they were supposed to, and he felt no stronger than his position before. As he approached Arthur sometime later, annoyance was clearly tailored to the expression on his face.

“Why won’t they listen to me?”

“For one… you suggested solving a property dispute end by ceding the territory to the king and letting us decide who gets what if those ‘miserable peasants’ get anything at all for wasting your time.”

“You’re busy and so am I. What’s wrong with that suggestion?”

“You can’t throw your fist down with every single problem your people bring to you. For one, that makes you a tyrant, not a king.”

What’s the point of power if you couldn’t use it? Gilgamesh thought to himself, even if Arthur was the more experienced king.

“You need to earn their respect and love. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s truly important.”

Arthur may have been taken with Gilgamesh, but he wasn’t blind to his faults. Every little thing he did was in the act of advancing his own power, and though Arthur appreciated the ambition and wished to be challenged, it almost felt like he had to babysit Gilgamesh for the time being, until he learned the ropes. He knew he had the makings of a wise king within him, he just needed polish… so much polish. As they dressed down for bed, Gilgamesh looked at the vial Merlin had given him for his wedding night with the king before setting it down again.

“Has Merlin told you the contents, yet?”

“He won’t say a word,” Arthur responded resolutely. “I wouldn’t take it unless you’re really curious as to what it can do.”

He was curious, that much was true, but not curious enough yet. Just because he shared a bed with the king didn’t mean either of their libidos were so out of control they needed to try everything… even if Arthur was touchy. Gilgamesh correctly suspected that Arthur was lonely, just as he’d accused Gilgamesh of being, and he wanted closeness to compensate for that. Well, that much he could deliver, even if the damn king breathed embers in his sleep.

--

The next day, Arthur gathered Diarmuid and Gilgamesh into the same room.

“Diarmuid, while you’re living here with us in Camelot, I’d like you to serve King Gilgamesh with whatever he needs.”

…? Diarmuid seemed unnerved, at least internally. The last time he agreed with whatever Gilgamesh had planned, he’d nearly been killed. Gilgamesh wasn’t exactly capable of the most rational decisions when it came to getting set upon his path to glory, but he knew better than to question King Arthur, of all people.

“Appointing me my own personal knight?” Gilgamesh seemed amused, to say the least. “Is this a preventative measure in case I go and try to slay a beast again, or are you really that determined to get a Knight of Fianna killed?”

“I’m determined that neither of you gets hurt. Diarmuid is the most capable of his kind, he easily held his own against that beast at sea, and I’m afraid the Knights of the Round Table aren’t free for me to assign to you. Even if this is just temporary, I would like for you to work together. I know you want to leave a mark on the world, Gilgamesh, and I won’t deny you that. I just want you to be safe, too.”

Safe this, safe that. It annoyed Gilgamesh to no end that Arthur was so concerned for his wellbeing. He could handle himself just fine on his own, he was strong in his own right and had desperately tried to carve out a name of his own back home, and he would’ve succeeded were he not whisked away to a foreign land. Still, he looked at Diarmuid and nodded. He’d put the wolf to work, for certain, and it felt good that he had one knight who’d be answering to his every whim.

As the group separated, Diarmuid following Gilgamesh as Arthur went to do work on his own, Gilgamesh began to speak.

“So you’re going to follow my orders, then.”

Already, Diarmuid felt a little uncertain. “If it’s as the king wishes of me—”

“Don’t forget, mongrel. I’m your king too. If I had handed down the same order, it’d be just as valid.”

This one really wanted to preserve his dignity, didn’t he? Despite having no power just days before, he was already ordering him around like he had been king this entire time. Still, Diarmuid was anything but disobedient, and he bowed his head before Gilgamesh.

“When I said ‘the king’, I meant you, my Lord.”

“… oh.”

A brief, awkward moment passed between them. “Well then, help me research beasts or pests that need slaying in Albion. If I wish to make my name here, it won’t be with helping the people.”

Diarmuid wanted to correct him, that that was perhaps the only way he’d make a name for himself, but sighed and agreed to his terms.

--

It turned out Albion was full of creatures and beasts and enemies from distant lands that threatened its sacred halls, but none quite stood out like a sore thumb as Cu Chulainn himself. It annoyed Gilgamesh to no end that he was unable to beat him, and Diarmuid wasn’t about to mention what he told Arthur on his plans to cure the beast of the madness plaguing him.

“What do you know of the Child of Light?”

Diarmuid was happy to tell him the tale of Sétanta, the one who singlehandedly defended Ulster against Queen Medb, who had slain a guard dog in his youth and offered to take his place, how he was a beast in battle who could tell apart neither friend or foe. How heroic he was considered back in Ireland, how his legend had been tainted by the queen’s touch. It was said that she wished to take him as a lover, but in twisting him up so horribly, he refused and tried to drown himself in the ocean, only to find he could survive underwater. Since then, his mind had deteriorated into that frenzied state that could no longer tell ally from enemy and attacked anything that entered his territory.

“So there’s no easy way to kill him…?” Gilgamesh thought aloud.

“If I may suggest—perhaps there’s no need to kill him at all?”

“You’re speaking nonsense,” Gilgamesh said quietly, before leaning back. “But I’ll allow you to continue.”

“I think if there’s a way to undo the fae queen’s curse, we can bring him back to Ulster, or at least save his life. He’s clearly miserable, being a shell of his former self…”

“Wait, how can you tell if he’s miserable? He’s a mad dog.”

“I can just… tell. I, too, have been cursed, and I know what it’s like.”

“Oh…?” Gilgamesh sauntered over, suddenly interested. “How have you been cursed, mongrel? I haven’t noticed anything wrong with your pretty face at all.”

“My pretty face is the problem,” He pointed to the mole on his cheek. “This. This gets me into a lot of trouble with women.”

“A love curse, huh…” Gilgamesh was quick on the draw. “Unenviable, but nothing compared to what Cu has. You escaped relatively unscathed.”

Diarmuid bit his tongue when it came to telling him that no, he wasn’t unscathed at all, that he nearly met his downfall had it not been for the right timing, but who was he to talk back to a king? Gilgamesh was… not in the best situation one could be in. An unskilled king working underneath the shadow of one of the greatest known to man. Still, his ego could use a check. He just wasn’t in the position to do it.

“What if we went after the source of it all?” Gilgamesh was nothing if not bold, and Diarmuid balked at the suggestion. “The fae queen herself, Medb.”

“Messing with fae folk doesn’t end well, trust me. Even doing good things for them ends poorly.” Still, Gilgamesh wasn’t exactly on the wrong track, it was just entirely unfeasible. To even try was unheard of, only legends spoke of humans who were able to outwit the fae, and legends were just that—smoke where there had maybe been fire or people who wanted to give hope to those who had been afflicted.

“That’s coward’s talk. Come, let us research her. Surely she has a weakness?”

“She does.”

“Oh…?”

“… cheese.”

Gilgamesh stared at Diarmuid for but a moment before bursting into laughter. “Cheese? You’re pulling my leg! I could have you hanged for lying to a king!”

“It’s the truth. It’s said that a block of cheese to her head is how she’s destined to die.”

“Hahahaha… ahhh… well, at least we have one weapon in our arsenal. Do you think killing her undoes the magic she’s cast?”

“I have no idea. Nobody would have a clue at all. I just want…”

“…? Speak up.”

“… I want Cu Chulainn to regain his sense and return home. He’s already made a legend of himself, and I don’t want it to end as poorly as it’s on the track to.”

“…”

Gilgamesh sized Diarmuid up, wondering if he could even trust this man to do as he said. After all, this person wanted to save Cu, not kill him, and Gilgamesh already staked his glory on the bounty on his head. He wanted to write his name in Albion’s history with Cu’s blood as the ink, but this one… wanted to bring him home as if he had done nothing wrong? He supposed there was merit in that. Merit in saving a life as opposed to destroying it, but Cu would serve his needs much better if he were dead.

“I may still kill him, I haven’t decided yet.”

Even though Diarmuid was sworn to his pack and not this king, he’d been given orders to follow their words. His loyalty could sometimes be a crutch, and he had no way to get around it. Still… how badly he wanted to disobey Gilgamesh’s orders and find his own cure.

The beast had shown him mercy when he had aimed to kill all others.

He couldn’t just ignore that.

--

Books were now piled everywhere in Arthur’s room, Gilgamesh spending most of his time reading on Albion and what he could do to improve things, but for such a perfect kingdom, it was almost like the best thing he could do was sit pretty and do nothing at all! How annoying, how utterly useless. He didn’t want to be remembered as Arthur’s bride, he wanted to be remembered as Albion’s greatest king. He wanted to be immortal in almost every sense of the word, and with Avalon, Arthur had already basically achieved that.

Why was he so jealous of his own husband? Surely, Arthur should be helping him along with this, rather than letting him do as he wished.

When Arthur returned to their room, tired from the day, undoing the buttons on the back of his coat so that his wings would be free of his shirt, he didn’t seem to have much to offer Gilgamesh aside from his loving company. Whenever Gilgamesh asked for advice regarding conquering or defeating monsters that plagued the land, Arthur simply said his knights were always patrolling to make sure his land was safe. That fighting wasn’t always necessary, and though he’d be happy to take Gilgamesh with him the next time something truly threatened Albion, it was okay to enjoy peace for now.

Gilgamesh couldn’t seem to stand it, stand the idea of peace or the idea that he had to do nothing in order to let glory come to him. He had an itch, a hunger to fight that was being unfulfilled that worried Arthur. Merlin’s warning came to mind, the one where he said that the problem with giving Gilgamesh land and power was ‘everything’. Knowing he should heed his advice but worried about the consequence of doing so, Arthur was at a loss for words.

Nonetheless, Arthur pulled Gilgamesh into a soft embrace, one that warmed Gilgamesh’s back by being pressed flush against his chest. Arthur really… wanted companionship, and perhaps wanted it so badly he picked the first person who caught his eye. Too bad, Gilgamesh wasn’t here to just be the king’s companion, he was here to be a king! That was the deal!

He didn’t wriggle out of his grasp, though. He let him hold him, despite the fact that he was a little annoyed.

“How lonely has it been for you, King Arthur?”

“Very.” He responded, simply.

“Even with the best knights in the world surrounding you, with subjects who listen to your every word? I’d never feel lonely.”

Arthur sighed, resting his chin atop Gilgamesh’s head. “It’s different when you’re not equals with someone. There’s a difference between love and respect.”

“Do you love me, Arthur?”

“I swore to you I would.”

“But do you.”

“I do.”

Gilgamesh laughed bitterly, closing the book in his lap with a solid thud. “You do not know the first thing about me, much less the things that would make you love me.”

“I don’t,” Arthur readily admitted it. “But I do know this; I can’t explain my feelings towards you in any other way but an unyielding affection, an admiration for your potential, and the relief you give me when I know I’m not alone any longer. If that’s not love, what is?”

“Infatuation,” Gilgamesh said simply, opening another book. “You’re infatuated with me. I won’t believe you love me until I feel the same about you.”

Though they were only recently married, the time to build up their affection for one another had been minimal. Arthur’s love at first sight might’ve been real, but Gilgamesh still needed time to learn more about Arthur than what he could give him physically. “I do not understand you, King of Knights, but I certainly hope to.”

At the very least, Gilgamesh trusted Arthur. It was hard not to trust someone who’d held you for days as you flew through the bare air, never dropping you or weakening once. Like a trust fall without falling. Gilgamesh’s trust was difficult to earn as well.

He let himself sit in Arthur’s embrace for but a few moments before standing up and walking to the bookshelf where he stashed the vial, bringing it over to Arthur so they could look it over. It was still a nauseating bright orange and smelled fresh, much to Gilgamesh’s curiosity.

“What do you think it is?” Gilgamesh asked, quietly.

“It’s probably something to make it easier on your body. To be honest, I’m not sure.”

“Would you like to experiment, Arthur?”

“Hm?”

“I’ll take it, and whatever happens, I expect you to deal with the consequences.”

Surely, Merlin wouldn’t poison him. Arthur hesitated before nodding. “I’ll do whatever I can.”

Gilgamesh rolled the vial between his fingers before uncorking it again and hesitating before tipping it back into his lips, drinking it down with a sputtering cough afterward. It tasted of licorice, which he found utterly disgusting, but as he waited for it to take effect, he noticed… nothing happening.

Until.

Fire welled up in his belly and he staggered off the bed, stumbling into the bookcase as books fell around him, feverishly trying to regain his balance as a sort of madness overtook him.

“Gilgamesh?!” Arthur shouted after him, helping him up by his arm and shielding him from falling books with his wing, but just the touch of his hand made Gilgamesh want to go feral. He was utterly delirious, and he recognized the sensation well—this had to be heat.

That bloody awful mage.

Chapter Text

“Haa…”

“Gilgamesh, are you okay? I can go find him and get him to—”

“A… Arthur…” How embarrassing, to be dragged so low by a magus’ whim, but he couldn’t just ignore his body now. Was that the aim of the mage? To make him so desperate for sex that no pain was intolerable? Well, congratulations, because he succeeded. All he could think of were Arthur’s claws on him, tearing off these fancy new clothes and bedding him properly, no thighs, just raw, unrestrained… He grabbed onto Arthur’s neck and practically dragged him down into a kiss, that unmovable wall of a man bending to his will for just a moment to grant him relief. Guilt clearly weighing down on Arthur, he pulled away as soon as he could muster the effort.

“You’re not yourself,” He implored. “If we have sex now—”

“Do you think I give a damn?” Gilgamesh hissed. “Do you think I care? All I care about right now is you taking care of this—this mess your court mage got me into!”

“No,” Arthur said firmly. “Wait here.”

Pulling his shirt back on, he left the practically steaming Gilgamesh on his own as he ran to the nearest person, asking where Merlin was, if not in his study.

“It seems he’s departed on a voyage, he wouldn’t tell anyone where he was going—”

Damn it. Of course. Clairvoyance. Realizing he couldn’t leave Gilgamesh alone, he headed back to their shared room, where Gilgamesh pounced him the moment he got in.

Arthur thought it over. He wasn’t even thinking in his own interests, either—he really did consider going to Merlin first and leaving Gilgamesh to tend to himself until then, but as Gilgamesh practically dragged him to the bed, he wondered what kind of physical torture it must be to not have relief from something that was so taxing for that long—who could say how long Merlin’s potion lasted? At the same time, what could he do for Gilgamesh? As Gilgamesh practically shoved him onto the bed, he realized there was precious little he could do to actually help him aside from fucking him.

“Are you sure you want this?”

“Asking stupid questions—of course! I told you that you needed to handle whatever would happen after I took that stupid thing, and I meant it!”

“Wait,” Arthur ordered, holding one hand up. “If we’re doing this, you’re going to have to prepare yourself on your own, first.”

“What?!” Gilgamesh snapped, before Arthur held up both his hands, talons glinting in the firelight. His ears went flat. “… oh.”

At the very least, he was quick to strip, peeling off his clothing and resenting the fact that they were more confining than his clothes from home. He paused for just a moment, thinking of whether or not he truly wanted this. Aside from the ache in his body, which was pressing and throbbing and demanding he do something about it, he had intended to fuck Arthur anyway, only that time it certainly promised to be a painful experience, so he’d put it off. Now he couldn’t put it off. What did he expect Merlin’s potion to do, anyway? … He thought it’d just relax him, to be honest, enough to the point where it’d be easier to take. That would be the sensible thing for a god damn potion to do. Not make him cloyingly desperate for Arthur to fuck him and force him into a frenzy.

As soon as he was bare, he worked on Arthur’s clothing, at least what remained of it. The buttons on his pants were easy enough to undo, but the dragon was already half-hard.

“What’s the matter?” Gilgamesh teased rudely. “Just the thought is getting you off, is it?”

Arthur turned his head away, slightly ashamed of how his body was betraying him.

There had been a gift mailed from Uruk that Gilgamesh stashed in his treasury. Essential oils, things to make sex ‘easier’ between them, and with annoyance, Gilgamesh realized it was time to use them.

“I’m going to have to do this…” He spoke, pulling one of the vials from his treasury and uncorking it to drizzle over the tips of his fingers. “In front of you, aren’t I?”

“You don’t have t—”

As Gilgamesh tilted his hips up and spread his legs, Arthur could do nothing but watch as Gilgamesh prepared himself for Arthur. Running his fingers along the circumference of his hole, he did his best to stretch himself, though his body was already so needy that it was almost unnecessary. Arthur would tell him it was highly, highly necessary from his experience alone, but it seemed like the touch was doing something for Gilgamesh, too. Though he really! Powerfully! Wanted! To! Fuck! Arthur, edging himself along with his fingers was clearing his mind and providing some relief, but not enough.

“Okay…” He panted, withdrawing his hand after he was able to fit three fingers and stretch decently. “Don’t… make me wait. Hurry.”

Each moment he hesitated, Gil pressed him further, ordering him to do as he was told, as one king to another, to the point where Arthur had enough. Spreading his legs wide enough to accommodate his hips, he pressed the head of his cock into him, guiding himself slowly inside.

Immediately, Gil had two reactions.

The first was sweet, sweet relief.

The second was pain.

Whatever he’d done, he’d clearly not done enough of because Arthur was enormous, immediately clawing at the sheets behind him and tearing them beneath his grasp. Arthur was sighing in pure bliss, but Gilgamesh could feel tears sting the corner of his eyes involuntarily, but at the same time, to ask him to stop would mean that he would be left unfilled, and he needed that so badly—and what if admitting pain was a weakness?

“You need to relax,” Arthur urged, holding onto the undersides of his knees as he kept his legs open. “It’ll hurt…”

“It’s already painful!” Gilgamesh complained, and for a moment, it looked like Arthur was going to pull out and quit, but Gilgamesh stopped him. “Don’t you dare! I need this, damn it!”

Arthur hadn’t even taken the potion, but the should-he-should-he-not was already wearing on his stamina. “You want me to keep going?”

“Of course! Don’t ever stop!”

Gilgamesh pulled himself up so that his hands were gripping Arthur’s back as Arthur leaned over him, Arthur pulling out for but a moment to add more oil and try again. There was no getting around the stretch, the pain that Arthur’s size gave him, but as he filled him up, he could feel so desperately close to coming that it would almost be enough to take him all. It seemed Arthur’s patience was up, too. With one snap of his hips, he’d thrust all the way into him, making Gilgamesh give a strangled cry.

“I’m sorry,” Arthur murmured, his hands on his hips as he withdrew a little bit. “Please bear with it.”

“Hhh…” Gilgamesh whined, nails digging bloody little lines into Arthur’s back. “That hurt!”

“I’m sorry, but you really have to relax,” Arthur repeated, stroking his inner thigh, holding his place without moving so Gilgamesh could adjust to him, making soft ‘shh’ing noises to try and calm him down. The claw marks on his back were well deserved. Gilgamesh’s rising and falling chest slowed gradually as he took Arthur’s words to heart. He was so close to coming, he felt like he’d gotten what he wanted and Arthur barely had to move to make it happen… but he had Arthur’s needs to think of, also. He thought of how long it took Arthur to come last time—was that how long it’d take Arthur to get his fill of him?

“I’m going to move,” He murmured, and Gilgamesh responded moodily ‘go ahead’.

He didn’t expect, even with all their preparation, for the movement to be so much as well, even when it was clear Arthur was restraining himself, making shallow thrusts that still had Gilgamesh crying out. Arthur’s shoulders were his leverage, each thrust that made him wince, he dug in his nails a little more, though it didn’t seem to bother Arthur any. As he pressed on, Arthur seemed to abandon his worries of hurting Gilgamesh, or maybe he was just losing his mind going so slow, but his thrusts became deeper, longer strokes of movement, and as Gilgamesh’s body adapted, it always seemed Arthur was going to throw something new at him.

Slowly, his grip on his shoulders loosened as his hands scrambled to grab the sheets, feeling each bit of Arthur test his limits, even as he came the first time. The pleasure and release helped him relax, helped him take him in a bit more, but it was still so much—soon he wasn’t sure if it was even pain, but just being at his limit at all times, as Arthur was now well and truly fucking him for all he was worth. He could see it on Arthur’s face, the fact that he’d waited so long for this and needed it so badly—that damnable mage was going to get an earful from both of them, for certain, but for Arthur, it was worth it.

Gilgamesh had left raking claw marks all across Arthur’s back as he struggled for leverage, to at least make sure Arthur felt the same kind of pain he did, but Arthur felt like an impenetrable wall. No matter what he did, he didn’t flinch, and he didn’t slow down. Still, Gilgamesh wasn’t telling him to stop, either, even as he shuddered and felt like his breath had been stolen from him. He had offered his body and it was being taken accordingly, like he was being used up like the bastard bride he was, and each twitch of his own cock told him that he wasn’t entirely mad about it.

He’ll use you plenty, Arthur, for your power and influence, so if it’s his body you need in return, take all you like. As Arthur breathed heavily over him, each thrust now unrelenting and rough, Gilgamesh felt himself build up yet again and they weren’t even done with the first round. Such was the heat that burned inside of him, he wanted more and more despite the pain, despite the overstimulated mess he’d become. He wanted to be bred, thoroughly fucked until his body had adapted to the shape of him, and Arthur was ever generous in accommodating him.

“Your body feels desperate…” Arthur whispered. “As if it’s sucking me in. It’s amazing…”

He was surprised to feel Arthur lean down over him to kiss him as those hips of his didn’t stop moving, leaving Gilgamesh, mind swimming, to wonder ‘Is fucking me not enough? You have to kiss me, too?’ Still, Gilgamesh was eager to bite him wherever he could, and in dragging himself down, he now had the leverage to sink his teeth into his shoulder, finally getting a pained reaction out of Arthur. Good, good! He wasn’t going to get out of this without treating him fairly after all, but then, as Arthur’s hands still rested on his hips and he was roughly fucking him, Arthur bit back.

Gilgamesh had underestimated a dragon’s fangs entirely as his shoulder was bitten into. He could tell blood was drawn, and Arthur wasn’t even using the full force of his jaws. The two were losing their minds together as if Arthur were in rut the same time as Gil’s heat. Maybe Arthur had just gone so long without this kind of intimacy that he was losing himself now that he had it. As Gil came a second—a third?-- time, now a mess of sweat and cum, he could feel himself losing energy as Arthur kept at it. His body still throbbed with desire, but his exhaustion was catching up to him. Now, he was entirely lost to overstimulation, unable to tell apart pleasure from pain, certain that he’d become molded to Arthur’s shape. Despite his deep breaths, it felt like he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. This wasn’t just sex, it was a claiming, mating that left a mark for life.

Arthur wasn’t done yet, though, but he was nearing his limit. As the bed shook beneath them, the last few violent thrusts were all he needed to push himself over the edge. He came so hard that Gil could practically feel it, feel a warmth surge inside of him as Arthur buried himself to the hilt, sighing and panting until he could bring himself to pull out. Gilgamesh simply laid there, regaining his breath as he realized what an awful mess he was, sticky with seed between his legs and blood on his shoulder. As the pain started to seep back in, Arthur cared for him gently by lapping at his shoulder, dragging him upwards despite his limp body to take care of him, as if knowing his efforts had been far too much.

Gilgamesh could do nothing but let him. He let him gently clean him up, let him gently rest him on the other side of the bed, let him bandage his shoulder and clean the little bite wounds. He ignored the scrapes along his back to care for Gilgamesh entirely, murmuring apologies for losing control as Gilgamesh shrugged them off.

“Better you get your energy out now than later,” He said, exhausted. “Now that all of that pent-up frustration is gone, the next time will be easier.”

“You still want a next time?”

Perhaps it was still the after-effects of his heat speaking, but he nodded. “You weren’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be.”

That might… might have been a lie. Arthur was intense, but he also wasn’t regretting it, either. Not when he came three times, even if he knew he wouldn’t be able to walk the next day. If anything, Arthur was well versed in aftercare, holding onto him and making sure he was comfortable, asking if there was anything he could do for the pain even as Gilgamesh shook his head.

Now that he knew what sex was like with him, Gilgamesh could see himself tolerating it for Arthur’s sake, even enjoying it. Next time, though, he would be sure to take no potion beforehand.

He wasn’t sure if that would help or hurt him.

--

He really couldn’t walk the next day.

Even as he got dressed after a much-needed bath to soothe his body, attendants wouldn’t avert their eyes from the bite mark on his shoulder, and he didn’t care enough to scold them. Look all you like, the proof that Arthur consummated their marriage would be covered up by his new clothing anyway. As he toweled off his hair and rather painfully dressed himself, he wondered if he should head back to bed to rest and hide the fact that he’d been so thoroughly… well, anyway—he had a bone to pick with Merlin, who must be back by now. Deciding his awkward strut would have to suffice, he made his way to the magus’ room.

Filled with books piled from the walls to the ceiling, it was an utter catastrophe of a room. As Gil wandered, looking for the culprit, he noticed a bundle of white fluff on the bed. Quickly realizing it was just Merlin, sleeping on his chest, he roused him awake.

“Mm… what is it, King Gilga—”

Gilgamesh struck him across the face, hard. “What is the meaning of you giving me a drug that forces heat upon someone? Answer wisely, Magus, or I’ll have you executed.”

“You won’t…” Merlin said coyly, though he was rubbing his cheek. “In fact, you’re here for more, aren’t you?”

“What?! How dare you insinuate—”

“Clairvoyance, Gilgamesh. I can see all of human history, including how much you were going to enjoy yourself if you had just the slightest push. You’re even walking wobbly. It seems Arthur truly is pleased with you, despite everything. I could even see the fact that you were going to hit me when I got back, which I should say is very rude of someone who I did a favor for.”

Gilgamesh’s temper flared up, unused to being read so easily. He had his secrets and he wanted to keep them, damn it.

“… Is that truly all you wished to do? Give a wedding present to me to make things ‘easier’?”

“Well…” Merlin trailed off. “When you put it that way, I sound like a real scumbag!”

“I wonder why.”

“But it doesn’t change the fact that you want more of the potion. In fact, I have some prepared—”

Gilgamesh groaned. “I don’t want any damn potion. I want you to answer for what you did.”

“It’s as simple as you’ve guessed. I just wanted to help you and the king when you were faced with a bit of a roadblock. At least now you know what to expect, no?”

Gilgamesh was still furious, but he sensed he wouldn’t be getting anything out of Merlin. “Know this, mage. Interfere again and I will have your head. You escape with it today because I am endlessly merciful.”

“Right, and if you want more potion, I’ll leave it on that shelf over there.”

How irritating, to be read like an open book. With a flourish of his cape, Gilgamesh turned and left the room with a bit of a limp, making his exit less powerful than he’d intended. Merlin waited until he left before he broke into a laugh. This new king could be so childish, so easy to read—but, he supposed it was a bit unfair of him to not tell him what the potion was. At the same time, his clairvoyance told him it’d be a long time before he took it if he did know—so it worked out in the end, didn’t it?

At the very least, the two seemed to have broken a barrier with one another. That was always a good thing.

Chapter Text

Arthur was the picture of a good king, noble and kind. It sufficed to say that everyone in the kingdom felt lucky that he was leading them, for they were truly in a golden era.

When he married Gilgamesh, everyone collectively thought that luck waned a little.

There were no secrets to be made of Gilgamesh’s true behavior; a tyrant through and through, he would sit at his throne as people offered their problems to him for his wisdom, and he either dismissed them thoroughly or suggested something that made only him happy. That was the true definition of a tyrant, one who rules selfishly and for their own gain. Diarmuid had the unenviable task of sitting by Gilgamesh’s side and talking him through his decisions, careful not to make too much of a suggestion that it’d seem like his own idea, but just barely making sure he didn’t execute anyone who didn’t deserve the rope.

The good part about having a good king, though, was that Arthur was not blind to this.

Finding Gilgamesh alone in their room, Arthur quietly shut the door behind himself.

“You need to have a gentler touch when you rule,” He urged, quietly. “You need to be more considerate of the people who come to you for help rather than ridicule them.”

“If someone comes to me asking to decide whose livestock belongs to who, do you think there is not a bigger waste of time? I’m a king! And—”

“And kings are tasked with even the unenviable tasks,” Arthur responded evenly. “It’s not all swordfights and conquering foes. Besides, just because you married into rank doesn’t mean you have everyone’s trust yet.”

It made Gilgamesh bristle, but at the very least, Arthur wasn’t going to sugarcoat the truth from him. Everyone demanded Arthur’s attention more than his own, for the really important things, so he was saddled with the unenviable tasks, like a lesser king. And he wasn’t even doing that right! Still, Gilgamesh knelt for no one, in his unruly temper and his demand to be seen. He wouldn’t just bow to his own subjects and solve their problems like he was some kind of consultant. That was Diarmuid’s job! At least until he went back to the Knights of Fianna.

Speaking of him, it seemed that Gilgamesh’s efforts were trying his patience, but his desire to save Cu Chulainn outweighed his desire to tell Gilgamesh to stuff it. Gilgamesh could see it in his eyes, despite his nobility and loyalty, the desire to be anywhere but by Gilgamesh’s side.

All of this made him feel powerless.

“Rank isn’t about trust. Rank is about rank.”

“You’re still green behind the ears. You have no experience other than by watching your father rule, and that was a kingdom you no longer belong to. Is mercy so unappealing to you, Gilgamesh?”

“Mercy? Hah! A king shouldn’t think of mercy, a king thinks only of—”

“You’re acting like a child.”

Arthur’s words might as well have struck him across the face, because Gilgamesh glowered up at him as if they had. “What…?”

“All power, no mercy. What kind of decent king lives by the code of animals?” The dragon king was clearly annoyed, though in a disaffected way. He wouldn’t get anywhere tenderly kissing the top of Gilgamesh’s head and telling him he was doing a great job. “You are a lion, but you are not the kind who hunts antelopes. You do not lay down all day and wait for a fight to break out for your own survival. You should be proud, noble. You should act like a king. After all, should I die, you will be ruling these people, and I’ve taught them well; they will accept no tyrant.”

Gilgamesh’s hand went to his neck instinctively even as he scowled, knowing he’d be the first on the chopping block if Arthur died and the people of Albion found him unsatisfactory. Arthur’s words hung in the air like a threat, which they really were—if Gilgamesh didn’t shape up, he’d take root in the people’s minds as an untrustworthy king. An undesirable king, and Gilgamesh couldn’t abide by that.

His pride, though.

His pride wouldn’t allow him to bow his head toward any peasant who thought he was only good enough for sorting out their problems.

Even as he climbed in bed next to Arthur that night, he refused to take the stance that a king should only serve his people. At the very least, a king that serves should be rewarded by his people for his noble efforts in helping them with their peasant problems. Arthur was doing him a favor by not protecting him from the fallout of his actions. As people avoided him in the halls of Camelot, he wondered how he could earn the favor of the citizens without them questioning his methods.

He thought back to the night near the docks, where a paltry amount of his own treasure had bought him a suicide mission into the ocean. He couldn’t pay people to like him though, that’d be absurd, and even worse for his pride.

Still, he thought about it into the night before sleep took him.

--

“Milord…” Diarmuid said, exhausted, biting back a yawn after having gotten little sleep due to his own time spent studying the fae.

“What is it, wolf of Fianna? I’m busy.” Gilgamesh was decidedly… not busy, sitting on his throne for people to bring their problems to him for the day. Really, it was almost as if Arthur regulated this task to him so he wouldn’t have to do it, which simply added insult to injury.

“When are we going to do something about Cu Chulainn…?”

“When I feel like it.”

“Uh—” That… wasn’t a great answer. “Could it be that you’re afraid of him? That’s completely understandab—”

“I am NOT afraid of him,” Gilgamesh barked down at him, causing Diarmuid to back off slightly. “I just don’t think getting involved with the fae so soon is a good idea.”

“Really, getting involved with them ever is never a good idea…”

“Precisely. I will find out how to kill him on my own time.”

“…” He didn’t want to kill him, and he was pretty sure he told Gilgamesh this, but the man had a penchant for not listening.

As merchants came in with disputes that continued to give Gilgamesh a headache, Diarmuid would offer quiet advice that would usually solve the problem rather quickly, letting Gilgamesh take the credit for it. Whatever, if it got the job done, Diarmuid wasn’t complaining. He’d take the position of royal advisor over royal pet any day. Today, he just hoped no blood would be shed. Gilgamesh had already ordered three people to be executed, and aside from one person who well and truly deserved it, Arthur had mostly overturned the orders in secret.

Word was getting around about the second king’s incompetence, though.

That’s what it was, incompetence. There was no getting around that fact when Arthur had set such a shining example. Perhaps if they had been ruled by tyrants before, Gilgamesh would just be another part of the whole parcel, but Arthur had made things in Albion feel livable, even with the challenges of day to day life, everyone felt safe. People started to not bring their disputes to the castle for fear of Gilgamesh having to handle it, whose temper was so volatile it could be tested on a whim.

Merlin, seeing disaster a mile away and wanting to do something about it for once instead of just watching, approached Gilgamesh with a smile.

“I have news!” He said, cheerfully.

“News… from you?” Gilgamesh gave a soft ‘heh’ as if the very idea was amusing. “I haven’t forgotten your little walk from the palace after you drugged me by proxy. You’re still walking around with a head on your shoulders because Arthur likes you.”

“Indeed he does!” Unperturbed by Gilgamesh, perhaps because he knew the right thing to say at any given moment and simply chose not to, Merlin pressed on. “You’re going to get the letter in a few days, but I might as well spoil it for you, shall I? Your father is righteously angry with you.”

Gil chuffed, somewhat amused. “As if he has any power over me now. He got rid of me, what does he have to be angry about?”

“Your reputation precedes you, milord. People are avoiding the castle for fear of having to deal with you. You are… in essence… the shadow of King Arthur. The part people don’t want to deal with.”

Something about the wording made Gilgamesh furious. He was more than the shadow of the man he married! “And what does my father have to say about that?”

“Now, now, don’t shoot the messenger, but he’s worried about how your poor performance is reflecting on himself. He’s considering sending one of them.”

“Them…?”

“There’s a family that lives a life close to the gods in Uruk, isn’t there? Even higher than the priestesses. They’re going to send a favored child to guide you if you keep this up.”

Ah, them. Those who had been blessed by the gods, they were—they were considered observers of the world, designated to keep the peace. To think that they would consider sending one of their own meant Gilgamesh was really, truly messing up, that he was heading down a path of destruction. The very idea that this had been predicted ruffled his would-be feathers. It was an absolute shame to be tasked with one of those people as a retainer.

“And how do I know you’re not lying?”

“How? Because there’s no way any other person could know this without clairvoyance. I’m just telling you what’s to come in the future, even if I really hate ruining surprises.”

Gilgamesh lifted his gaze to look his way. “True, this isn’t normal for you. You usually like to watch people stumble and fall before you tell them that there’s a rock they’re about to trip over. Which means…”

“… yes, it’s truly that dire. I would like to advise you to take care for what you do in these next coming weeks. It will shape your destiny, depending on what you do.”

“Don’t you already have a clear vision of what will happen in the future?”

“Telling you all of it will be boring. Seeing you grow will be worth it.”

“What does that mean?”

Merlin shrugged before bidding the king farewell, leaving Gilgamesh to ponder on his words.

He’d have to think of something to impress Arthur as well as his court, to establish he didn’t need someone from his homeland to come act as a second advisor. By the way Merlin said it, though, it already felt set in stone…

No matter. Gilgamesh would press on as he always had.

--

It was true, a letter did follow, along with another retainer from Uruk, but they weren’t from the family Gil was told of, they were just another lion. The letter told Gilgamesh to shape up and obey the rules of the land or there would be hell to pay. If Gilgamesh reflected poorly on them, there was a chance the king would annul the marriage and he’d be exiled back to Uruk. Gilgamesh did nothing more but crumple the letter and throw it into the fire as kindling.

There would be an advisor coming in from the fabled King of Conquerors today. One who wanted to discuss things with King Arthur, but would have to settle for Gilgamesh instead.

“Really,” Lord El-Melloi II said to the man next to them, guiding him into the throne room. “I’ll gladly wait for Arthur’s return. Anything would be better than…”

“Better than what?”

Gilgamesh was sitting in his chair, chin leaning against his hand, ready to prove Merlin wrong and give the performance of a lifetime. He would be incredible, damn it. Absolutely stunning.

“Ah,” The panther gave a curt bow, though it was clear he’d rather be seeing anyone else but Gilgamesh, and Gilgamesh knew it. “I was just seeking the king.”

“You’ve found him.”

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, El-Melloi II pressed on. “King Arthur. My mistake for not clarifying.”

“He’s off with his knights making sure the kingdom is safe,” Gilgamesh drawled on, not caring that this person clearly didn’t want to see him—he would answer to his authority nonetheless. “You can come to me with any problem you have, though. It was… an honor to have your king at the wedding.”

Even that was too much for Gilgamesh to say, clear distaste on his tongue for having to commend someone else for coming to his wedding. El-Melloi II could sense the disrespect a mile away, and didn’t appreciate it.

“Very well,” He may not like it, but Gilgamesh was an authority in this kingdom nonetheless. He’d have to settle for him lest he risk offending him further, and El-Melloi II took his job incredibly seriously. “There’s a border dispute between our territory. People from your land have been trespassing and taking ours, mile by mile. Surely this isn’t your doing?”

“… No, I haven’t given any orders like that, nor has Arthur.” Gilgamesh tapped his chin, secretly proud that his kingdom was expanding, even in the face of his ally right in front of him. “Surely you can handle it?”

“We’re allies, so it falls in your jurisdiction to punish those trying to trespass appropriately.” El-Melloi II was nothing but formal. “This is your problem, in other words, and it would serve you well to make haste in fixing it.”

“… What’s a few miles between kingdoms, anyway?” Gilgamesh said, coyly.

Excuse me?”

“So what if they’re taking some land? Big deal. If you can’t defend it, then you don’t deserve it.”

El-Melloi II had to keep his cool, knowing that this man certainly didn’t speak for Arthur. Just his luck to be stuck with the shadow of the king. “You’re joking.”

“We have a way of doing things in Uruk—we take what is ours, and those who cannot keep it, lose it. A wise philosophy, don’t you think?”

“I didn’t know the king took an idiot for a bride.”

Gilgamesh bristled suddenly, immediately lashing out at the other man. “What did you dare to call me?”

“An idiot. Only an idiot would say ‘finder’s keepers’ to a foreign diplomat instead of ‘sorry, I’ll take care of it’ and solving the issue. You’re a fool, but luckily, I know you don’t speak for Arthur.” He disregarded Gilgamesh almost immediately, which earned his ire more than ever. “I won’t take personal offense to this. Anyone can tell you’re just eye candy for the king, after all. Guards, take me to a room until Arthur returns.”

“Oh no—” Gilgamesh’s eyes burned with anger, pointing to the guards on either side of him. “I’ll tell you where to put him. Throw him in the dungeon.”

El-Melloi II seemed unphased, as if he expected this, but was sick of his shit nonetheless. He didn’t censor himself for anyone when it came to tyrants anyway, and though the guards looked at him apologetically, they couldn’t disobey orders from the king. Sensing trouble immediately, Diarmuid tried to intervene.

“Gilgamesh, surely you’re joking? He’s the right hand of the King of Conquerors. Nothing could be a greater insult—”

“Then insulted he’ll be.” Gilgamesh wasn’t budging on this, no matter what. “Put him somewhere extra uncomfortable. Where he can’t see the light of day. That’s all. Take him away.”

They didn’t even need to take El-Melloi II by the arms, he simply walked with him as they took him from the throne room, everyone around staring at Gilgamesh in fear and shock. El-Melloi II was Iskandar’s beloved tactician, his very obvious favorite. To do this would incite war if everything from here on out wasn’t handled carefully, and in Gilgamesh’s hands, it certainly wouldn’t be.

“What are you doing?” He snapped at the people around him. “Keep doing whatever it is you were doing!”

Diarmuid knew he couldn’t stay beside Gilgamesh a moment longer. Asking where the king had went, he borrowed a horse and headed to find Arthur before things got really dire.

--

El Melloi II was imprisoned for two weeks before Arthur returned.

That’s a long time to think about peace and what it’s worth to you.

Retainers of Iskandar were sent once El-Melloi hadn’t returned after the designated week it would take to travel between their kingdoms. The nasty beast on the south coast of Albion that Arthur had been tasked with slaying had been taken care of, so his surprise was immeasurable when he found out there was an ally imprisoned at Gil’s request, over such a simple territory dispute, no less.

When the retainers had sent word back to Iskandar that El-Melloi II had been imprisoned, he was rightfully furious. Only when Arthur let El-Melloi II out and apologized profusely did he speak.

“I could forgive a night in a cell like that. It wouldn’t be my first time dealing with an unreasonable king—but Arthur. You’ve married a menace. Someone who disregards the idea of peace for the sake of his own amusement. Do you think our kingdom can ignore this? Can ignore the idea of someone who would imprison others for suggesting they take care of their own problem? I will be talking to King Iskandar about this, and we will reconsider the treaty we have with you—if you are keeping someone so volatile at the helm of your kingdom, that’s a danger for us, not to mention you.”

“What’s he doing out of his cell…?” Arthur watched as Gilgamesh sauntered up to the pair of them, wondering why his orders had been overridden. “I’m a king, aren’t I? My word is absolute, so—”

“You are dismissed, Gilgamesh.” Arthur’s words were frigid. “Return to your room at once.”

“That’s no way to talk to me,” Gilgamesh crooned, leaning in to Arthur’s anger as if it were fun. “We’re both kings. You said so yourself, didn’t you?”

“Guards.”

At once, guards appeared on either side of Gilgamesh. It was in that moment that everyone in the room knew who the real king of Albion was, particularly Gilgamesh.

“I have to clean up this mess you made,” Arthur’s voice was like ice, despite the fire that threatened to escape his lips. “For the sake of our people. We will talk later. Go.”

--

It was a while before Arthur entered the room where Gilgamesh waited.

Arthur was furious but put on a calm façade for the sake of dignity. “El-Melloi II is going back to his kingdom to report what you did to him. Until then, I don’t know how stable things will be between our kingdoms.”

“Hmph… if you ask me, he—”

“I was not. Asking. You.” Arthur poured himself a glass of wine. “In fact, I’ve learned what Merlin meant by when he said giving you power could cause trouble in the kingdom. I trusted you, Gilgamesh. To have sense. There is no sense in imprisoning someone who threatened nothing to you. Pride is a horrible tool of mass destruction when you have power, and the fact that you don’t realize that is worrying.”

The scolding was bitter, and Gilgamesh wasn’t going to just stand around and take it. “What can he do? He is one man—”

“He is the favorite of King Iskandar. He would move mountains for him.” Arthur took a drink. “I need to return to negotiations. Whether you stay in this room or your former quarters is up to you. But Gilgamesh… I am thoroughly disappointed in you.”

With a flourish of his cloak, Arthur left the room, leaving Gilgamesh to sit and stew on the fact that his power wasn’t recognized.

As Gilgamesh left the room, he knew he had accomplished nothing by letting his pride get in the way, but it was still there, beating as if it were his own heart. Diarmuid was no help—a yes-man who simply tried to solve problems by making everyone happy, at least that was what Gilgamesh thought. He wandered back to his old quarters, where he was certain he’d stay for the next few nights. He didn’t want to look at Arthur.

His retainers were there, and though they tried to soothe his mood with music or stories, none of them were successful. Gilgamesh simply ordered a bottle of wine be brought to him so he could calm his nerves.

“A king who isn’t respected by his kingdom… I’ll make them respect me.”

“Are you sure?” Said one of the lions, organizing the books next to him. It was a new one.

“Of course I’m sure! Don’t waste my time with stupid questions.”

“It just seems like… you got what you wanted, to become a king, yet you don’t know the first thing to do about it.”

“Silence. I didn’t ask for your opinion.”

The lion didn’t speak any further, as Gilgamesh had another pour his glass of wine for him, he thought back to Cu Chulainn and wondered if slaying him would at least give him a leg up. He’d press Diarmuid for details on his research the next evening.

For now, he’d get some rest and see how the rest of his ‘punishment’ for this transgression would play out.

Chapter Text

Arthur left immediately to go speak with the King of Conquerors. With a name like that, keeping a treaty was essential to their kingdoms coexisting peacefully. As he flew there, he pondered how harshly he’d treated Gilgamesh for locking up Iskandar’s favorite tactician, and bitterly wondered if there’d be bad blood between them now. He’d always been a good-natured man, vicious to his opponents but rambunctiously kind to his allies, and even if Arthur and Iskandar didn’t see eye to eye on what made a king, they were in a sound agreement and had trade routes set up between them.

When he made it to his castle, his feet gently tapping the ground, he expected guards to accompany him into the throne room, but he was still welcomed in to walk on his own. Arthur had flown in with two other guards, but didn’t anticipate needing them.

There was a luxury to these castle walls that Camelot didn’t quite boast in the same way. The fruit of conquering, many treasures had been unearthed and taken along in Iskandar’s continuous quest. As customary, Arthur bowed his head before him, offering an apology first and foremost.

“I am eternally sorry for what my fellow king has put your top advisor through—”

“Hold on, now.” Iskandar held up a hand. “Why not greet me, first? You seem on edge.”

“… of course. I am always glad to meet you, King Iskandar. I just wish it were under better circumstances.”

El-Melloi II was at his side, though Arthur had noted that the tense expression he wore when they last met had waned somewhat. He looked calmer, more composed, but the stern expression still was perfectly tailored to his face.

“Well, it can’t all be weddings,” Iskandar crossed his arms and leaned back. “He locked up Waver, now, didn’t he?”

“He did.” Arthur lifted his head to look him in the eye. “For nearly a fortnight.”

“And this was over…?”

Arthur sighed, before beginning. “He was the only one at the castle, I was off protecting the lands to the north. Apparently, he’d been insulted and thought the only way to handle it was with force. Again, my apologies could not be more—"

“Hold on.” He glanced towards his advisor and spoke. “You have something to say, too, don’t you?”

“… I have family and friends on the border. My temper, though justified, in speaking with your fellow king was out of line. I should have simply waited for your return rather than provoke someone who I knew was new to this sort of thing outright.” El-Melloi II didn’t seem too embarrassed to have to admit this, but rather, seemed resigned and cooled off. “Mostly, we would just like to see the issue settled. It was an issue of bandits pressing the border, who are unaffiliated with your army. We’ve seen a few lives lost and didn’t want this to break out into something worse.”

“I see,” Arthur looked between the two of them. It was as though they already spent time talking about this. “I will have my knights handle it. Again, my apologies—”

“What are you sorry for?” Iskandar asked, suddenly.

“For my fellow king’s rough treatment of your retainer, of course.”

“Why? Shouldn’t you stand behind the person you married above all else?”

Arthur was stunned silent. He’d been thinking of protecting the peace above everything that he hadn’t considered what Gilgamesh felt about it at all. How disempowering it must have been that, when he left, he left Gawain in charge of any further kingly matters.

“You might be a decent man, Arthur, but you’re a terrible husband!” Iskandar laughed to himself, leaning on his arm. “Am I happy about what happened? No, not at all, but to see you bow your head with your tail between your legs instead of sticking up for him, for him being insulting, is almost worse. Don’t you feel for him? You weren’t always a perfect king. Why I remember when we first met… you were the hot-tempered young one telling me that ‘trespassing on your territory would earn me the flames of your breath’.”

“…”

“And that’s as a king should do! Defend what’s his! And you should certainly defend what’s yours, too, and that includes him.”

Arthur spoke. “Have I truly been so harsh…?”

“If what Waver is telling me is right, you didn’t try at all.” Iskandar’s voice turned a little more serious. “I think instead of owing me an apology, you owe it to me to take care of those bandits and give that apology to your fellow king. You’ve undermined his authority thoroughly. No surer path to getting him to hate you.”

Arthur couldn’t help but take the admonishment to heart. He had been thinking of himself this entire time, even when it came to matters like Gilgamesh, for his own sake. Keeping him happy, for his own sake, keeping him content, so that Gilgamesh might like him more. Taking him from his kingdom and throwing him into a new one and expecting him to swim. He had no idea how they ruled in Uruk. Was he just ruling by example, then? Could Arthur fault him for that?

“You’ve given me much to think about.”

“Fly home, dragon. You need to mend what you’ve done within your own walls.” Iskandar leaned back. “… and send Gawain when you have those bandits take care of him. We get along, I’d like to have drinks with him.”

Arthur nodded, signaling to his guards to turn and leave.

--

Gilgamesh was still contemplating what to do with himself.

Back in Uruk, the king’s word was law, and Lugalbanda was by no means a bad king, but he ruled him and his siblings with absolute authority, and that was how Gilgamesh learned that authority was everything. He thought by defeating his siblings, he’d earn his right to the crown, but no such thing came to pass. Ruling through power was what he was taught, and though Gilgamesh was unstoppable in a fight, he’d been laid low by everyone around him.

“You need to learn how Camelot works,” Said the new lion, who still hadn’t dressed in appropriate clothes for Albion despite being offered them. “If you wish to be respected as a king, you need to learn to respect yourself.”

“Did I ask for your opinion?” Gilgamesh barked back, clearly angry with the entire situation he found himself in. He didn’t cower, he didn’t lower his head, his pride simply wouldn’t allow him to do that. If he could, he would’ve locked up that advisor for longer, but it seemed he wasn’t out of his predicament from back home, either. He was still answering to a king with a higher power, and he wouldn’t get any power of his own without learning the rules.

“Ah, you don’t need to ask for my opinion for me to give it.”

“Servants speak when spoken to.”

“If you’d like my advice, it might be wise for you to live among the people of Camelot for a while.”

“What did I just say?”

Gilgamesh lifted his hand to smack the other lion, but they caught it so deftly that Gilgamesh immediately knew they were adept in combat. They simply smiled back at him, but Gil could see it was dangerous in nature.

“I was sent here to help you, and if you’re going to continue acting like this, I won’t hesitate to strike back, you know.”

Gilgamesh narrowed his eyes. “… who are you?”

The blond-haired, red-eyed lion smiled at him before their appearance suddenly shifted into that of a horned person with striped antlers, green hair cascading down their back. They were an entirely beautiful person, but they had yet to let go of his wrist. In fact, they were squeezing it a little tightly.

“… Ah,” Gilgamesh said, bitterly. “You’re from that family. Overseers close to the gods. Merlin warned me about you.”

“’Warned’? It shouldn’t merit a warning. I’ll really have to talk to him…”

“Who are you?”

“Enkidu.”

“Well, consider yourself dismissed. Shapeshift yourself some wings and fly back to Uruk.”

“I’m afraid I can’t—or won’t—do that. You need to be a king, and everyone here is neglecting to tell you how without showing you the way.”

Gilgamesh considered this for a moment. This was someone sent by his father, sure, but they were telling the truth. He didn’t know at all what the people of Camelot wanted, nor would he figure it out so easily without help. He had his pride, but it was getting him absolutely nowhere. What could he do? He recalled their advice from just a few moments before, the one that Gilgamesh nearly hit them for.

“… you can let go of my wrist now.”

“Can I?”

“Yes,” Gilgamesh said through gritted teeth. “You can.”

Enkidu unhanded him, sitting down next to him on his bed. “As I said, you would do well to learn what these people actually want from you. That’s something you neglected to do in Uruk, so you might as well do it here.”

“… I’ll wait until Arthur gets back.” He didn’t like this new person, not at all, nor did he like what they were suggesting. Mingling with the common folk? That was beneath him, yet he was out of options and ideas for what to do next. He was going to have words with Arthur, too. About pride and respect, something Arthur clearly knew nothing of.

--

As Arthur entered the castle once more and gave instructions to send knights to the borders, he sought out Gilgamesh almost immediately.

“There you are—” Arthur began, but Gilgamesh simply turned from him.

“Done cowering before another king, are you? I hope you got what you wanted because I certainly won’t f—”

“I’m sorry.”

Gilgamesh had expected more scolding from him like he was a child, not… that.

“I undermined your authority and disrespected you entirely. Your decisions, whether I agree with them or not, are laws of Camelot. If there are problems we have with one another, we should work them out together. While I don’t approve of what you did, it was entirely shameful of me to judge you based on what a diplomat from another country said of you.”

“… Finally smart enough to realize that?” Gilgamesh was glad he was getting the apology he deserved, but pressed on. “You were so enchanted with me that you stole me away from my country, but getting cold feet once you saw how I handle things? You’re foolish, Pendragon.”

“I understand if it’ll take a while to build trust with me again. You may not be allowed to act like a tyrant while you’re here, but… I let other people color my perception of you. You are strong in your own right, and I owe it to you to help you, not hurt you.”

Gilgamesh considered his words adequate for nursing his wounded pride. “Fine, fine. Stop groveling. It doesn’t suit you, either. I take it things went well with Iskandar?”

“Exceedingly.” This would be a good opportunity to talk with him as kings would. “The bandits were on our side of the land, and they were threatening villages who sat at the border. I sent some of my best knights to handle it. How would you have?”

“… I didn’t know it was bandits.” Gilgamesh responded, moodily.

“You should ask.”

“He should say so.”

“Either way, more communication was necessary. What would you have done had you known?”

“Have the bandits captured and executed, naturally.”

Arthur paused. “Although I’d do the same in this situation, is your first instinct always to execute?”

“Why not? Solve a problem permanently or prolong one, pick one.”

Arthur sighed. “Not every criminal deserves the sword or the noose. Some people are forced to live in poverty and have to choose between fighting to survive or dying nobly. No kingdom is free of that kind of choice.”

“… my new retainer suggested I live among the people for a while,” Gilgamesh said, suddenly. “Learn their ways from them. Learn what they want from a king.”

“Not a bad suggestion,” Though Arthur would admit to himself he’d be lonely at the castle without him. “I think it would be beneficial for you to know these people like they were your own family.”

“Because they are?”

“No. Kings can’t afford to think like that,” Arthur said, gently. “It would help you learn empathy.”

“I have plenty of empathy.”

“…” Arthur looked to the side, before remembering the lesson he’d tried to impart earlier. “I believe you have a lot to learn about empathy for people who are beneath your station, is all.”

Gilgamesh, despite everything, was eager for a break from Arthur, who’d promised tutors instead of this suggestion. “Will you arrange for lodging for me in the castle town? Somewhere nice. I am used to a certain amount of luxury, after all.”

“Of course. How many of your retainers will you take with you?”

“… just two.”

“If that’s what you want, then you can have it. I owe it to you to give you some distance, too. Just check in with me as often as you can. You’re still a king, even if you’re going to be around common folk.”

“Whatever, sure.” Gilgamesh was dismissive, but even if this was just an excuse to get out of Arthur’s bed while he was still annoyed with him, he didn’t doubt that the castle town would be more interesting than Camelot’s stark, cold walls. Maybe he’d find something fun down there, maybe there would be more clues to carving out his path to glory.

--

The inn that took them in was one of the nicer ones, but it was a downgrade as far as Gilgamesh was concerned.

Enkidu and Diarmuid weren’t very bothered, but Gilgamesh took one look at the bed and wondered what kind of lice resided within it bitterly. The food, which he already hated, would be a step down too, and like he could read his expression easily, Enkidu took one look at Gilgamesh and sighed.

“If you think all of this is beneath you, you’re already failing at what you set out to do.”

“Who’s failing ? I don’t fail .”

“Your people have to sleep on beds like this all the time. To sleep on one yourself, you’ll learn more about their struggles. If you learn more about their struggles, the more you’ll care about alleviating them. It’s not impossible to figure out.”

“Oh please, as if a bed is going to give me any revelations about how a king should work.”

Diarmuid was about to intervene, but the banter seemed almost healthy. With Arthur, Gilgamesh had to answer to an authority. With Enkidu, he could freely speak one-on-one. Diarmuid knew he didn’t have the same kind of permission that his new personal retainer did, but he’d do his best to keep an eye on the two of them. Just before he was about to speak, they could hear the sound of a woman entering the bar downstairs in a panic.

“My son—boars—I--”

“Calm down,” said the barkeep. “What’s the matter?”

“Wild boars have chased down my son on the edge of town!” She cried out. “None of the knights are around, please, tell me where they went!”

Diarmuid immediately stood up, ready to answer the call, and as Enkidu followed him out, Gilgamesh just leered at them with an ‘I expected this’ look.

“You’re coming, too,” Enkidu stated point-blank. Gilgamesh rolled his eyes.

“Are you going to make me?”

“Why do this at all if you’re not going to answer the call of your people?”

Gilgamesh took his time standing up, stretching and walking over to follow them. “Leave it to the knights. I’ll follow the two of you just to amuse myself with your fighting.”

Enkidu and Diarmuid had no time to argue. They headed downstairs and followed the directions of the woman who guided them, Gilgamesh pulling on a cloak so no one would recognize them and following after them at a leisurely pace.

--

When they got there, the son she’d mentioned had been forced to climb up a tree to avoid the beastly creatures beneath him. Diarmuid didn’t have the best experiences with boars, but he still had his lance out, ready to fight. Gilgamesh looked at Enkidu somewhat lazily, noting they had no weapon and asked what the hell they planned to do.

Suddenly, there were chains flying every which way.

Goring one boar after another, Gilgamesh watched in shock as magic he’d never seen in his entire life took down the entire group of boars. Almost effortlessly, as if it barely merited lifting a finger.

“What kind of retainer could I be if I couldn’t fight?” He asked, simply.

As the man climbed down from the tree and thanked them profusely, he told them he was out here with his bow to hunt these creatures before they ganged up on him. Diarmuid helped calm him down while Enkidu simply looked at the slain creatures and back to the cart that the man intended to haul his hunted prey back on.

“Help me pick these up. There’s enough meat to feed entire families, they should bring it back to town.”

“And get dirty? N—”

A re you going to tell me you’re too weak to, that your royal hands aren’t strong enough?”

That was the kind of goading that could make Gilgamesh pick up a boar’s legs and throw it onto the cart, Diarmuid helping, careful to avoid the tusks. As they rode back into town, people of all kinds and species watched as they hauled in fresh carcasses. Though the woman was eternally grateful for their help, they declined the offer for staying at her house as she cooked the meat for all of them. They couldn’t get too close and risk the King being found out.

As they returned to the inn, settling for a dinner of meat and mead, Gilgamesh opted to return to his room and let his back fall flat against the mattress beneath him. Already, he was tired of this, but the woman was so grateful to them. A job that a lesser knight could have accomplished, his two retainers did with ease (although he admitted, one of them was a well-known knight already…). Was this kingship? A bunch of little deeds piling up to make a great one?

That couldn’t be it. He’d known Arthur’s legend from far and wide, and his father had his own history. He needed to do more, be more. He needed to be something incredible.

Boars were just a stepping stone. Recalling what he read in books, an idea crossed his mind.